Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

July 31, 1998
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IRAS Orion
Credit: IRAS Project, IPAC

Explanation: Do you recognize the constellation Orion? This striking but unfamiliar looking picture of the familiar Orion region of the sky was produced using survey data from the InfraRed Astronomical Satellite (IRAS). It combines information recorded at three different invisible infrared wavelengths in a red, green, and blue color scheme and covers about 30x24 degrees on the sky. Most of Orion's visually impressive stars don't stand out, but bright Betelgeuse does appear as a small purplish dot just above center. Immediately to the right of Betelgeuse and prominent in the IRAS skyview, expanding debris from a stellar explosion, a supernova remnant, is seen as a large bright ring-shaped feature. The famous gas clouds in Orion's sword glow brightly as the yellow regions at the lower right. No longer operational, IRAS used a telescope cooled by liquid helium to detect celestial infrared radiation.

Tomorrow's picture: A String of Pearls

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.