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01.09.07

Eagle Nebula Flaunts Its Infrared Feathers

This set of images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Eagle nebula in different hues of infrared light. Each view tells a different tale. The left picture shows lots of stars and dusty structures with clarity. Dusty molecules found on Earth called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons produce most of the red; gas is green and stars are blue.

The middle view is packed with drama, because it tells astronomers that a star in this region violently erupted, or went supernova, heating surrounding dust (orange). This view also reveals that the hot dust is shell shaped, another indication that a star exploded.

The final picture highlights the contrast between the hot, supernova-heated dust (green) and the cooler dust making up the region's dusty star-forming clouds and towers (red, blue and purple).

The left image is a composite of infrared light with the following wavelengths: 3.6 microns (blue); 4.5 microns (green); 5.8 microns (orange); and 8 microns (red). The right image includes longer infrared wavelengths, and is a composite of light of 4.5 to 8.0 microns (blue); 24 microns (green); and 70 microns (red). The middle image is made up solely of 24-micron light.