Astronomy, as it name implies, is involved in the study of stars since the ancient times. The best place to find out more about these mysterious beacons of light in the sky is outside Earth's atmosphere. Further, investigating the stars is done at infrared wavelengths, where the dimming due to dust and gas surrounding the stars is minimized. The whole lifecycle of stars from birth to death is thus revealed with an infrared space telescope, such as Spitzer.
Closely connected to stars are gas and dust nebulae that often cover vast spaces between and around stars. These nebulae provide the raw material for the formation of future stars on one hand, but on the other hand they themselves consist of the remains of previous generations of stars that have blown themselves up either peacefully or in a violent manner.
Spitzer's observations have revealed previously unknown material in the interstellar space, including giant buckyball-like molecules and jets around dense stars. Spitzer has for the first time unearthed weather conditions on failed stars called brown dwarfs, pointed out hidden places of star formation in dusty interstellar cocoons, and discovered dusty relics of ancient stellar deaths.
Exploding stars generate dramatic light shows. Infrared telescopes like Spitzer can see through the haze and to give a better idea of how often these explosions occur.
Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered carbon molecules, known as "buckyballs," in space for the first time. Buckyballs are soccer-ball-shaped molecules that were first observed in a laboratory 25 years ago.
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, NASA's Spitzer and Swift space telescopes joined forces to observe a microlensing event, when a distant star brightens due to the gravitational field of at least one foreground cosmic object.
New images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope are shedding light on the true structure of the Milky Way, revealing that it has just two major arms of stars instead of the four it was previously thought to possess.
Astronomers have discovered what appears to be a large asteroid belt around the star Vega, the second brightest star in northern night skies.
Astronomers have at last found definitive evidence that the universe's first dust -- the celestial stuff that seeded future generations of stars and planets -- was forged in the explosions of massive stars.
To the surprise of astronomers, most brown dwarfs may be roiled by massive storms.
One of the most mysterious aspects of black holes is their ability to shoot small, steady jets of matter into space near the speed of light. Until the sensitive infrared eyes of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope recently spotted one of these jets around a nearby neutron star, or super-dense dead star, black holes were the only known objects in the universe with this "talent."
Hot spots near the shattered remains of an exploded star are echoing the blast's first moments, say scientists using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
Astronomers have spotted young stars in the Orion nebula changing right before their eyes, thanks to the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The colorful specks -- developing stars strung across this image -- are rapidly heating up and cooling down, speaking to the turbulent, rough-and-tumble process of reaching full stellar adulthood.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the formation of planets.
A bunch of rowdy comets are colliding and kicking up dust around a dead star, according to new observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The dead star lies at the center of the much-photographed Helix nebula, a shimmering cloud of gas with an eerie resemblance to a giant eye.
Astronomers using NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered that an exploded star, named Cassiopeia A, blew up in a somewhat orderly fashion, retaining much of its original onion-like layering.
An enormous light echo etched in the sky by a fitful dead star was spotted by the infrared eyes of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has found evidence of a high-speed collision between two burgeoning planets around a young star.
Researchers are getting to know some of our sun's closest and smallest neighbors.
Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have probed the stormy atmosphere of a brown dwarf, creating the most detailed "weather map" yet for this class of cool, star-like orbs. The forecast shows wind-driven, planet-sized clouds enshrouding these strange worlds.
Although we all want to think that the people we keep company with are "cool," when it comes to the cosmos, no one has a cooler companion than a star known as WD 0806-661.
Touring the Milky Way now is as easy as clicking a button with NASA's new zoomable, 360-degree mosaic presented Thursday at the TED 2014 Conference in Vancouver, Canada.
For the first time, scientists have directly measured wind speed on a brown dwarf, an object larger than Jupiter (the largest planet in our solar system) but not quite massive enough to become a star. To achieve the finding, they used a new method that could also be applied to learn about the atmospheres of gas-dominated planets outside our solar system.
A new infrared mosaic from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope offers a stunning view of the stellar hustle and bustle that takes place at our Milky Way galaxy's center. The picture shows throngs of mostly old stars, on the order of hundreds of thousands, amid fantastically detailed clouds of glowing dust lit up by younger, massive stars.
More than 800,000 snapshots from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have been stitched together to create a new "coming of age" portrait of stars in our inner Milky Way galaxy.
It's a tie! The new record-holder for dimmest known star-like object in the universe goes to twin "failed" stars, or brown dwarfs, each of which shines feebly with only one millionth the light of our sun.
The evolution of stellar families - born from the same clumps of gas and dust - is just some of what's on display in this sweeping image.
A new study has found five objects with similar properties to the most luminous and massive stellar system within 10,000 light-years of Earth.
A new image from NASA's Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes looks more like an abstract painting than a cosmic snapshot. The masterpiece shows the Orion nebula in an explosion of infrared, ultraviolet, and visible-light colors.
Something scary appears to be slithering across the plane of our Milky Way galaxy in this new Halloween image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The snake-like object is actually the core of a thick, sooty cloud large enough to swallow dozens of solar systems. In fact, astronomers say its "belly" may be harboring beastly stars in the process of forming.
A star must live in a relatively tranquil cosmic neighborhood to foster planet formation, say astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
For a brief moment in 2002, an obscure star called V838 Monocerotis (nicknamed V838 Mon by astronomers) suddenly became 600,000 times brighter than our Sun and temporarily was the brightest star in our Milky Way galaxy. Within a few months, it faded back into obscurity.
A spectacular new infrared image and spectrum from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reveals the complex life cycle of young stars, from their dust-shrouded beginnings to their stellar debuts. Observations of this star-forming cloud were taken shortly after Spitzer returned to normal observations following a spacecraft anomaly. The image, which was captured by the telescope's Infrared Array Camera (IRAC), is the most sensitive infrared survey of the cloud to date.
Astronomers have long scrutinized the vast and layered clouds of the Orion nebula, an industrious star-making factory visible to the naked eye in the sword of the famous hunter constellation. Yet, Orion is still full of secrets.
In 1987 a massive star exploded in a neighboring galaxy, an event called a supernova. It was the closest supernova to Earth since the invention of the telescope centuries ago. Now, a team using the Spitzer Space Telescope and the 8-meter Gemini South infrared telescope in Chile have probed the supernova remnant and found the building blocks of rocky planets and all living creatures.
A long, slender stream of ancient stars has been discovered racing across the northern sky. The stream is about 30,000 light-years distant from Earth and is flowing high over the Milky Way Galaxy at some 230 kilometers per second, or more than half a million miles per hour.
University of California, Berkeley