Thursday, March 16, 2006

Fires of Creation?

The Spitzer Space telescope recently took this amazing picture:

This object is being called "The Double Helix Nebula" due to its DNA strand shape. The shape is thought to be caused by the magnetic field near our galaxy's center.

This nebula is about 300 light years from the black hole at the center of the Milky Way (to put that into perspective, we are over 25,000 light years away from it). It joins the "Strangely Shaped Nebulae Club," consisting of such members as the red rectangle and, of course, the smiley binary system highlighted below!

This is a false-color image. Spitzer is an infrared telescope. Since we can't see infrared, the images are assigned colors so that we can see them.

Photo credit: NASA/JPL, Caltech/UCLA

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