A ‘Monster’ Star-Forming Region

Spitzer_ssc2021-09a_1024

spitzer_ssc2021-09a October 25th, 2021

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Do you see a monster in this picture? Do the bright spots near the top of the image look like the piercing eyes and elongated snout of Godzilla?

In reality, this colorful image shows a nebula – a cloud of gas and dust in space – captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Over billions of years, countless stars have formed in the material there. During their lifetimes, the radiation they release carves away the gas and dust, reshaping the cloud. Major changes also occur when massive stars die and explode, becoming supernovae. When viewed in visible light, the kind human eyes can detect, this region is almost entirely obscured by dust clouds. But infrared light (wavelengths longer than what our eyes can perceive) can penetrate the clouds, revealing hidden regions like this one.

Three colors (blue, green, and red) are used to represent different wavelengths of infrared light; yellow and white are combinations of those wavelengths. Blue represents wavelengths primarily emitted by stars; dust and organic molecules called hydrocarbons appear green; and warm dust that’s been heated by stars or supernovae appears red.

The Godzilla-like nebula is located is in the constellation Sagittarius, along the plane of the Milky Way, which was part of Spitzer’s GLIMPSE Survey (short for Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire). Stars in the upper right (where this cosmic Godzilla’s eyes and snout would be) are an unknown distance from Earth but within our galaxy. Located about 7,800 light-years from Earth, the bright region in the lower left (Godzilla’s right hand) is known as W33.

Provider: Spitzer Space Telescope

Image Source: https://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/image/ssc2021-09a-a-monster-star-forming-region

Curator: Spitzer Space Telescope, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: https://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/page/image-use-policy

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
W33
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula > Type > Star Formation

Distance

Universescale1
7,800 light years
Spitzer_ssc2021-09a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 18h 12m 28.0s
DEC = -17° 50’ 12.8”
Orientation
North is 20.3° CCW
Field of View
1.2 x 1.2 degrees
Constellation
Sagittarius

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 3.6 µm
Green Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Mid-IR) 8.0 µm
Red Spitzer (MIPS) Infrared (Mid-IR) 24.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Blue
Green
Red
Spitzer_ssc2021-09a_1280
×
ID
ssc2021-09a
Subject Category
B.4.1.2.  
Subject Name
W33
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Release Date
2021-10-25
Lightyears
7,800
Redshift
7,800
Reference Url
https://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/image/ssc2021-09a-a-monster-star-forming-region
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Spitzer, Spitzer, Spitzer
Instrument
IRAC, IRAC, MIPS
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3600, 8000, 24000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
273.1164931933518, -17.836901384568623
Reference Dimension
3542, 3542
Reference Pixel
1771, 1771
Scale
-0.00033331270653269845, 0.00033331270653269845
Rotation
20.3167058552
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Spitzer Space Telescope
URL
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
1200 E. California Blvd.
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
91125
Country
USA
Rights
https://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/page/image-use-policy
Publisher
Spitzer Science Center
Publisher ID
spitzer
Resource ID
Metadata Date
2021-11-09T19:30:18Z
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
7,800 light years