Stars and Nebulae

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.

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