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.
Eight hundred light-years away in the Orion constellation, a gigantic murky cloud called the "Witch Head Nebula" is teeming with dust-obscured newborn stars waiting to be uncovered.
Big stars usually aren't shy about anything, not even death. At the end of their lives, they throw explosive tantrums, called supernovae, flinging abundant amounts of hot gas and radiation into space. Remnants of this cosmic fury can last for several thousand years and be easily detected by most telescopes used by professional astronomers.
University of California, Los Angeles
The California Institute of Technology announced today (March 15) that a team of astronomers, led by Carl Grillmair of the Spitzer Science Center, has discovered a narrow stream of stars extending at least 45 degrees across the northern sky.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted what may be comet dust sprinkled around the white dwarf star G29-38, which died approximately 500 million years ago.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Call it the Bermuda Triangle of our Milky Way Galaxy: a tiny patch of sky that has been known for years to be the source of the mysterious blasts of X-rays and gamma rays. Now, a team of astronomers, led by Don Figer of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., has solved the mystery by identifying one of the most massive star clusters in the galaxy. The little-known cluster, which has not been catalogued, is about 20 times more massive than typical star clusters in our galaxy, and appears to be the source of the powerful outbursts.
The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) is a challenging stargazing target for amateur astronomers. It is one of the closest planetary nebulas -- a type of nebula formed from gas ejected by a dying sunlike star. Yet it is so large and spread out in the sky that it appears very dim in a telescope eyepiece. Long-exposure photographs unveil the true beauty of this celestial wonder. A new portrait of the Helix Nebula, created by the penetrating infrared gaze of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, is being released today at the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.