Release Date: May 22, 2018 1:00PM (EDT)
Media Use: Copyright
About This Video
When spiral galaxies interact and merge, the process disrupts vast stores of gas. As these gas clouds collide, they clump together and become very dense. This triggers a burst of star formation that churns out baby stars at unprecedented rates. Most of this starburst activity is hidden deep inside dust clouds that form in these dense areas. As the dust blocks the visible light from the hot, young stars, it warms up and glows brightly in the infrared. Adding an infrared layer into the image of this merger shows the starburst like a shining red beacon.
Optical: The merging galaxies are furiously forming stars inside a dark cocoon of dust.
Infrared: Including infrared light (in red) dramatically reveals where stars are forming.
ABOUT THE INFRARED UNIVERSE COLLECTION
The human eye can only see visible light, but objects give off a variety of wavelengths of light. To see an object as it truly exists, we would ideally look at its appearance through the full range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Telescopes show us objects as they appear emitting different energies of light, with each wavelength conveying unique information about the object. The Webb Space Telescope will study infrared light from celestial objects with much greater clarity and sensitivity than ever before. Explore the Infrared Universe.
Adapted from Cool Cosmos by IPAC, with additional contributions from Bruno Merin and Miguel Merin (Pludo).