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Infrared Iris
Sig13 005

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Observation • May 24th, 2013 • sig13-005


This cloud of glowing gas is the Iris nebula, as seen in infrared light by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The main cluster of stars within the nebula is called NGC 7023. It lies 1,300 light-years away in the Cepheus constellation.

Between 2003 and 2005, thanks to its unprecedented sensitivity, NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope created maps of regions like this, showing the location of complex organic molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs may be precursors to the organic ingredients that kick started life on Earth.

Lower resolution data from NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) were used to fill out the outer areas of this image, which Spitzer did not cover.

About the Object

Iris NebulaNGC 7023
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Star > Grouping > Cluster
1,300 Light Years

Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Infrared 3.6 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 4.5 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 8.0 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 24.0 µm Spitzer MIPS


Position (J2000)
RA =21h 1m 35.7s
Dec = 68° 10' 12.6"
Field of View
34.3 x 19.3 arcminutes
North is 0.1° left of vertical