WISE Images the Heart and Soul Nebulae
Tuesday, 25 May 2010 06:44
In spite of having been launched only a few months ago, the WISE Space Telescope is already proving its worth in the eye of astronomers. Its goal is to survey the entire Universe one and a half times over, but in the meantime, it's providing some spectacular vistas of nebulae, stars, near-Earth objects (NEO), asteroids, and dark objects that are too cold to be picked up by less sensitive telescopes. Its most recent feat is snapping an image of the Heart and Soul nebulae, in an unprecedented level of detail. At this point, WISE is about 75 percent complete in its first sweep of the Universe, Space reports.
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer was designed specifically to be able to capture incredible details in infrared wavelengths. Its detectors are very sensitive to this portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the fact that the entire observatory is kept at very low temperatures also helps considerably. After completing the calibration and commissioning phases of the mission, engineers have fine-tuned the observatory so that it captures about 7,500 images of the Universe each day, which can then be pieced together in a mosaic. Such was the case with the new image too, experts say.