Mar 22, 200610:24 AMThe Life
Mar 22, 2006 - 10:24 AMUsing NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have found an elongated double-helix nebula 300 light-years from the enormous black hole at the center of our galaxy. By comparison, Earth is 25,000 light-years from the galactic center. The research was published March 16 in Nature.
The part of the nebula the astronomers observed stretches 80 light-years in length. [Click thumbnail photo for larger image.] The spots are infrared-luminous stars, mostly red giants and red supergiants. This false-color image was taken by the Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer.
A Delta rocket inserted Spitzer into Earth orbit on August 25, 2003. The telescope is designed to obtain images and spectra by detecting the infrared energy, or heat, radiated by objects in space. Most of this infrared radiation is blocked by the Earth's atmosphere and cannot be observed from the ground.
Spitzer is the largest infrared telescope ever launched into space. Its sensitive instruments allow us to view regions of space that are hidden from optical telescopes. Many areas are filled with dense clouds of gas and dust which block our view, but infrared light can penetrate these clouds.
Hm. Maybe the ending of Men in Black was right, and our galaxies are just cells in the bodies of unimaginably huge beings?