The Spitzer Space Telescope website will be down on Tuesday July 29th from 9am PDT to 10am PDT for server maintenance. Thank you for your patience.

Download Video

Video Information

Subscribe to Series

10.12.04

Galactic Fossil Revealed in Infrared Light

This animation demonstrates the power of infrared light to see what visible light cannot -- a newfound bundle of stars called a globular cluster. The movie shifts from a visible-light image to a near-infrared image to a new mid-infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The visible-light image is from the California Institute of Technology's Digitized Sky Survey and the near-infrared image is from the NASA-funded Two Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS).

Globular clusters date back to the birth of our galaxy, 13 or so billion years ago. There are about 150 clusters sprinkled around the core of the galaxy like seeds in a pumpkin. Astronomers use these galactic "fossils" as tools for studying the age and formation of the Milky Way.

Most clusters orbit around the center of the galaxy well above its dust-enshrouded disc, or plane, while making brief, repeated passes through the plane that each last about a million years. Spitzer, with infrared eyes that can see into the dusty galactic plane, first spotted the newfound cluster during its current pass. Astronomers then searched for past references to the cluster and found only one undocumented image from the Two Micron All-Sky Survey.

Follow-up observations with the University of Wyoming Infrared Observatory helped set the distance of the new cluster at about 9,000 light-years from Earth -- closer than most clusters -- and set the mass at the equivalent of 300,000 Suns. The cluster's apparent size, as viewed from Earth, is comparable to a grain of rice held at arm's length. It is located in the constellation Aquila.

Astronomers believe that this cluster may be one of the last in our galaxy to be uncovered.

The Two Micron All-Sky Survey false-color image was obtained using near-infrared wavelengths ranging from 1.3 to 2.2 microns. The Spitzer false-color image composite was taken on April 21, 2004, by its infrared array camera. It is composed of images obtained at four mid-infrared wavelengths: 3.6 microns (blue), 4.5 microns (green), 5.8 microns (orange) and 8 microns (red). The true-color image from the Digitized Sky Survey was acquired with red and blue filters.

Browse Videos in Science Animations

2040100 per page

Details or Icons

Page-nav-left-disabled Page 1 of 1 Page-nav-right-disabled

Go to page

ssc2014-02v1

03.20.14

Panning Through the Milky Way

ssc2012-11v1

07.18.12

Flying Out to GJ 436 and its Planets

ssc2010-08v1

10.19.10

Weird Warm Spot on Exoplanet

ssc2010-06v1

07.22.10

Mini Soccer Balls in Space

ssc2010-06v2

07.22.10

Buckyballs Jiggle Like Jello

ssc2009-19v1

10.06.09

Saturn Family Tour

ssc2009-16v1

08.10.09

Planetary Demolition Derby

ssc2008-09v2

05.05.08

Dissecting a Light Echo

ssc2008-09v1

05.05.08

Cauldron of Light

ssc2007-19v1

11.29.07

Pulling Back the Curtain of Dust

ssc2007-09v1

05.09.07

Blacker than Black

ssc2007-09v2

05.09.07

Mapping Exotic Worlds

ssc2007-09v3

05.09.07

How to Map a Very Faraway Planet

ssc2007-08v2

04.18.07

Highway to the Danger Zone

ssc2007-08v1

04.18.07

Infrared Rose

ssc2006-22v1

12.18.06

Stars Spring Up Out of the Darkness

ssc2006-21v2

11.07.06

Hubble-Spitzer Orion

ssc2006-20v1

10.30.06

Who Ya Gonna Call?

ssc2006-18v1

10.12.06

Fire and Ice Planet

ssc2006-16v1

08.14.06

Journey to Orion

ssc2006-15v1

07.24.06

Stars Can't Spin Out of Control

ssc2006-14v1

06.05.06

Fade to Red

ssc2006-10v1

04.05.06

Birth of 'Phoenix' Planets?

ssc2006-09v1

03.16.06

Cigar Galaxy up in Smoke

ssc2005-14v1

06.09.05

The Cry of Cassiopeia A

ssc2005-13v1

06.02.05

Space Eyes See Comet Tempel 1

ssc2005-12v2

05.30.05

Carina in Context

ssc2005-12v1

05.30.05

Pillars Behind the Dust

ssc2005-11v1

05.04.05

A More Spectacular Sombrero

ssc2005-10v1

04.20.05

Band of Rubble

ssc2005-10v2

04.20.05

Sunset on an Alien World

ssc2005-09v2

03.22.05

Distant Planet Flaunts its Light

ssc2005-09v3

03.22.05

How to Measure a Planetary Eclipse

ssc2005-09v1

03.22.05

A Planet in a Different Light

ssc2005-08v1

03.01.05

Invisible Galaxies Come to Life

ssc2005-07v1

02.11.05

Spitzer's Delicate Ring Flower

ssc2005-06v1

02.07.05

Birth of an Unusual Planetary System

ssc2005-02v1

01.12.05

Trifid's Shifting Sides

ssc2004-22v1

12.09.04

A Distant Solar System

ssc2004-20v1

11.09.04

Icy Dawn of a Newborn Star

ssc2004-17v2

10.18.04

Swirling Rings of Dust

ssc2004-17v1

10.18.04

When Worlds Collide

ssc2004-19v1

10.07.04

Visible-Infrared Whirlpool

ssc2004-15v3

10.06.04

Supernova Explosion

ssc2004-15v2

10.06.04

Kepler's Supernova Remnant - Zoom-In

ssc2004-13v1

08.09.04

Spitzer Discovers Hidden Ring

ssc2004-08v2

05.27.04

Icy Organics in Planet-Forming Disks

ssc2004-08v3

05.27.04

Forming a Planetary Gap

ssc2004-06v1

04.14.04

Star Formation in the DR21 Region

ssc2004-05v1

03.15.04

Orbit of Sedna

ssc2004-04v1

03.08.04

Star Formation in Henize 206

ssc2004-04v2

03.08.04

Triggered Star Formation

ssc2004-01v1

01.13.04

The Tarantula Nebula

ssc2003-06v3

12.18.03

Messier 81

ssc2003-06v4

12.18.03

Herbig-Haro 46/47

ssc2003-06v2

12.18.03

Dark Globule in IC 1396

ssc2003-06v5

03.18.03

Model Dust Ring