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10 images from NASA's Spitzer telescope

By: Katherine Butler on Nov. 9, 2011, 9:22 a.m.
lots of different colors swirling in space

Photo: NASA

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Chaos at the heart of Orion

When Spitzer was fully functional, the Spitzer Space Telescope had to be simultaneously warm and cool to function. "Everything in the Cryogenic Telescope Assembly must be cooled only a few degrees above absolute zero," according to NASA. "This is achieved with an onboard tank of liquid helium or cryogen. Meanwhile, electronic equipment in The Spacecraft portion needs to operate at room temperature." Here, the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescope combine to show the chaos of baby stars some 1,500 light-years away in the Orion nebula. The orange dots are infant stars. Hubble shows less embedded stars as specks of green, and foreground stars as blue spots.