This artist's concept demonstrates that an invisible galaxy shrouded in dust can become glaringly bright when viewed in infrared light.
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Invisible Galaxies Come to Life! (Artist Concept)

This artist's animation demonstrates that an invisible galaxy shrouded in dust can become glaringly bright when viewed in infrared light. The movie begins with a visible-light view, showing a dark blob of a galaxy that is so shrouded in dust it appears invisible. The picture then transitions to what the same region of space might look like in infrared light. A galaxy appears out of the darkness, because its heated dust glows at infrared wavelengths.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope uncovered a hidden population of invisible galaxies like these using its highly sensitive infrared eyes. The dusty galaxies are among the brightest in the universe and are located 11 billion light-years away, back to a time when the universe was 3 billion years old. The universe is currently believed to be 13.5 billion years old.

Astronomers are not sure what is lighting up these cosmic behemoths, but they speculate that quasars--the most luminous objects in the universe--may be lurking inside.

Image details

ID#:
PIA07396

Date added:
2005-03-01

Mission:
Spitzer Space Telescope

Spacecraft:
Spitzer Space Telescope

Rating:



Views:
3,970

Full-Res TIFF:
PIA07396.tif (18.75 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA07396.jpg (0.58 MB)

Image credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech