SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Star Birth, Active Sun, More

SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Star Birth, Active Sun, More
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December 23, 2009--Four pictures of the Rho Ophiuchi star-forming region illustrate the "evolution" of infrared astronomy over the past quarter century.

Each image, seen above in chronological order, was made by a past or present infrared observatory run with U.S. participation: the InfraRed Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO), the Two Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS), and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Infrared light is invisible to human eyes, so the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center assigned false colors to all four images to help astronomers visualize how stars are born in Rho Ophiuchi. Different colors represent the temperature and composition of dust, as well as the ages of the hundreds of stars forming in the dense molecular cloud.
— Image courtesy Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, California Institute of Technology
 
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