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.

September 4, 1996
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IRTF: Scanning the Infrared Skies
Credit: NASA, IfA (U. Hawaii), Photograph courtesy of Bill Keel (University of Alabama)

Explanation: Above, NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) poses in front of a starry background. Located on top of Hawaii's towering volcano Mauna Kea, the IRTF is the premier telescope for observing in near infrared light. This 3-meter telescope was established in 1979 and spends about half its time observing Solar System objects. In 1994, for example, the IRTF recorded pieces of the famous comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 plunge into Jupiter. Last year, the IRTF recorded an outburst of a volcano on Jupiter's moon Io. IRTF's observational successes outside our Solar System include understanding the infrared emission of dust and Pre-Main Sequence stars and even the identification of faint galaxies.

Tomorrow's picture: Watch Galaxies Form

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
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