Where In The Universe #129

by Nancy Atkinson on December 16, 2010

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Here’s this week’s image for the Where In The Universe Challenge, to test your visual knowledge of the cosmos. You know what to do: take a look at this image and see if you can determine where in the universe this image is from; give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft/telescope responsible for the image. We’ll provide the image today, but won’t reveal the answer until later. This gives you a chance to mull over the image and provide your answer/guess in the comment section. Please, no links or extensive explanations of what you think this is — give everyone the chance to guess.

UPDATE: Answer now posted below.

This is part of the Orion Nebula showing a colony of hot, young stars, and was taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope. The hottest stars in the region, called the Trapezium cluster, are bright spots at center right. Radiation and winds from those stars has sculpted and blown away surrounding dust. The densest parts of the cloud appear dark at center left.

This image is a combination of data from Spitzer and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS). The Spitzer data was taken after Spitzer’s liquid coolant ran dry in May 2009, marking the beginning of its “warm” mission. Light from Spitzer’s remaining infrared channels has been color-coded: 3.6-micron light is green and 4.5-micron light is red. 2MASS 2.5 micron light is blue.

See more about this image on the Spitzer website.


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

iantresman December 16, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Definitely NGC 1976, taken by the Space Infrared Telescope Facility

Jon Hanford December 16, 2010 at 10:01 AM

The Orion Nebula (infrared) with data from the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS).

Navneeth December 16, 2010 at 10:13 AM

M42. Spitzer was definitely involved in this.

Nephish777 December 16, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Even though the colors do not match the images I could find, I afree with M42 and Spitzer.

capricron December 16, 2010 at 11:12 AM

M42- spitzer

Tim McDaniel December 16, 2010 at 12:25 PM

No, I think it’s LBN 974 instead.

Jon Hanford December 16, 2010 at 12:50 PM

I dunno, it could be PKS 0532-054 (or mebbe 3C 145) :)

Nephish777 December 16, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Just a note, NGC 1976 is the same object as M 42.

TerryG December 16, 2010 at 2:23 PM

This is Spitzer’s Orion image taken in 2009. The center looks a bit like a scorpion, which makes it easier to track down if you don’t recall seeing it before.

Jon Hanford December 17, 2010 at 5:44 PM


Just a minor note. I’m sorta confused by the answer to this weeks WITU. The 2-band image you have linked to seems to be a different one than above. Are you sure this 3-band image isn’t the correct pic: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/3022-sig10-004-Orion-s-Dreamy-Stars

(note the addition of a 2.5 micron (light blue) image from 2MASS)

Nancy Atkinson December 18, 2010 at 6:49 AM

You’re right, Jon — sorry about that! I linked to the image that didn’t have the 2MASS data. Thanks for catching that, and I’ve corrected the answer.

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