New WISE view of the Andromeda Galaxy

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), NASA's newest space telescope, has just released the first selection of images following its recent launch on the 14th December 2009.

Infrared cameras are able to see objects that glow at room temperature, but are otherwise difficult to see in other forms of light, such as unltrviolet, x-ray or optical light (that our eyes can see). For this reason, police helicopters use infrared cameras to look for escaping criminals, because the human body seems to glow brightly on the screen, even if it is hidden in bushes.

The following WISE image is of the nearby Andromeda Galaxy, M31. Whereas a normal camera would pick up the hot, bright central core of a galaxy, the WISE infrared camera appears to highlight warm clouds of gas that stretch through the spiral arms.

Diagram of the WISE Space Telescope
Diagram of the WISE Space Telescope.
Image of M31 Galaxy from the WISE space telescope
Image of M31 Galaxy from the WISE space telescope.

WISE's mission is to search the entire sky in infrared light, to uncover objects that are difficult to see in normal light, such as very cool stars, structure in galaxies, and some of the darkest near-Earth asteroids and comets.

If you would like to know more about the WISE mission, or see some of the other images that have recently been released, then please go to the following link:

WISE Mission Page