Infrared: Beyond the Visible
The answers to some of the universe's greatest cosmic mysteries are written across the night sky, inscribed in light we can't see with our human eyes — but it won't be invisible to us forever. "Infrared: Beyond the Visible" explores the wonder of infrared astronomy and the promise of the upcoming Webb Space Telescope. Get a sense of the sights Webb will capture, with its Hubble-sharp vision and ability to reach into the farthest depths of space and time. Infant galaxies! Just-forming planets! Cosmic Space Storks! (Editor's Note: Please note that Cosmic Space Storks are probably metaphorical.) Squirrels! (Editor's Note: Squirrels, while real, are still unlikely to be observed by the Webb Space Telescope.) Join us on our journey of discovery, and when you're done, check out the links below for more on the infrared universe.
Gallery of Infrared Astronomy
Take a closer look at some of the actual astronomical objects featured in "Infrared: Beyond the Visible," and enjoy these additional infrared images.
Carina Nebula Pillar
Infrared light penetrates gas and dust clouds, allowing infrared cameras to see the stars within. The infrared view of this pillar reveals young stars, including one firing off a long jet of hot gas. Enlarge Image.
Source: Visible: Hubble | Infrared: Hubble
Starlight in the galaxy's center dominates this visible-light image of Andromeda. Dust lanes are only faintly seen. In the infrared image, dust blazes with an orange glow, showing arms that reach right into Andromeda's heart. Enlarge Image.
Source: Visible: Kitt Peak National Observatory | Infrared: Spitzer
Hubble's visible-light image of Jupiter contrasts with the Gemini Observatory's glowing infrared view. Infrared images of Jupiter provide information about the chemistry of the gas giant's clouds. Enlarge Image.
Source: Visible: Hubble | Infrared: Gemini
Spiral galaxy M101 is also called the pinwheel galaxy due to its distinctive shape. The infrared view brings out the galaxy's delicate dust lanes in yellow-green hues, and shows its warm dust glowing red. Enlarge Image.
Source: Visible: Hubble | Infrared: Spitzer
Starburst galaxy M82 has a bright blue disk, webs of shredded clouds, and plumes of hydrogen streaming from its center. The infrared view also reveals a huge, hidden halo of smoky-looking dust surrounding the galaxy. Enlarge Image.
Source: Visible: Hubble | Infrared: Spitzer
More About Webb
Delve deeper into the science and technology of the Webb Space Telescope. Check out some of these other links specifically devoted to Webb.
Learn more about the science that awaits the launch of the Webb Space Telescope.
Find out how Webb works, and how it meets the challenges of its immense size and distant orbit.
This video podcast gives a behind-the-scenes look at the people and places involved in building the Webb Telescope.
See Webb telescope developments for yourself on Goddard's clean room "Webb-cam," get pictures, and learn more about the science and technology.
Follow Webb on Facebook, and share images and news updates.
Get Webb-related tweets on news updates, images, and more.
Infrared Astronomy's Must-See Stops
Webb's discoveries will build on the work of other groundbreaking missions. Here are some of the best resources on the web for infrared astronomy.
The Spitzer Space Telescope has created one of the most thorough and entertaining sites on infrared astronomy at its Cool Cosmos' Infrared Astronomy page.
Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC): News, images and events for a number of past and ongoing infrared missions, including Spitzer, Herschel and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).
IPAC Gallery: Images from seven missions provide a window into the infrared universe.
The Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS)
Infrared is just one part of the range of electromagnetic waves that make up the full spectrum of radiation in the universe. Learn more about infrared and the EMS with these links.
NASA's Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum: Find out what an electromagnetic wave is, how it behaves and the characteristics of the different types.
NOVA's Electromagnetic Spectrum Tour: A quick primer on the EMS and how it works.
Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum: Science@NASA offers this series of videos that explains each part of the electromagnetic spectrum, including a comprehensive feature on infrared light.