Ssc2008 11a8

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Wisconsin

Observation • June 3rd, 2008 • ssc2008-11a8


This is one segment of an infrared portrait of dust and stars radiating in the inner Milky Way. More than 800,000 frames from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope were stitched together to create the full image, capturing more than 50 percent of our entire galaxy.

As inhabitants of a flat galactic disk, Earth and its solar system have an edge-on view of their host galaxy, like looking at a glass dish from its edge. From our perspective, most of the galaxy is condensed into a blurry narrow band of light that stretches completely around the sky, also known as the galactic plane.

This segment extends mostly through the constellation Sagittarius but also includes small areas of Ophiuchus. The flat band of green running through this region is mostly dust in the distant disk of the Milky Way galaxy. The very center of the Milky Way galaxy falls at the right edge of the image; such views of the inner region of our galaxy are not possible in visible light. The well-known Trifid nebula, which is the most distinctive visible light feature in this area, is also seen here (center left) but its light is mingled with other dust and star-forming regions and does not stand out in the infrared.

The swaths of green represent organic molecules, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are illuminated by light from nearby star formation, while the thermal emission, or heat, from warm dust is rendered in red. Star-forming regions appear as swirls of red and yellow, where the warm dust overlaps with the glowing organic molecules. The blue specks sprinkled throughout the photograph are Milky Way stars.

This survey segment spans galactic longitudes of 0.0 to 8.3 degrees and is centered at a galactic latitude of 0 degrees. It covers about two vertical degrees of the galactic plane.

This is a three-color composite that shows infrared observations from two Spitzer instruments. Blue represents 3.6-micron light and green shows light of 8 microns, both captured by Spitzer's infrared array camera. Red is 24-micron light detected by Spitzer's multiband imaging photometer. This combines observations from the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE) and MIPSGAL projects.

About the Object

Milky WayGalactic PlaneGalactic Center
Galaxy > Component > Disk
Galaxy > Component > Bar
Galaxy > Component > Bulge
Galaxy > Component > Center/Core
Nebula > Type > Interstellar Medium
Nebula > Type > Star Formation

Color Mapping

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


Position (J2000)
RA =17h 55m 7.9s
Dec = -25° 23' 39.3"
Field of View
8.3 x 4.5 degrees
North is 59.7° left of vertical