The Spitzer infrared space telescope began its mission in 2003. At first, its mission was planned to last 2.5 years, but now it celebrates 16 years of activity. In 2009, the telescope ran out of liquid helium, so most of its instruments became inoperable. The onboard infrared array camera (IRAC) is the only instruments that still works to this day.
NASA plans to send the Spitzer into retirement in January next year. During its mission, the telescope managed to observe many exciting phenomenons in space, like the Henize 206 nebula, the Cat’s Paw nebula, magnetic field lines of the Cigar Galaxy and the Pandora’s Cluster.
Only a few days ago, NASA released an image of a perfectly sideways galaxy, captured by the Spitzer’s IRAC. NASA said that the image looks like a floating lightsaber, but it is actually an entire galaxy viewed sideways.
Spitzer Space Telescope Captures Image Of A Sideways Galaxy
According to NASA, the red beam at the center is a galaxy called NGC 5866, which is located 44 million light-years from our home planet, measuring more than half the diameter of the Milky Way. Since the galaxy is sideways, it is impossible to distinguish any features. Experts say that the galaxy looks red due to the infrared wavelength produced by dust.
NASA representatives gave the following statement: “Our view of this galaxy is somewhat like our view of the Milky Way galaxy: Because Earth lies inside the Milky Way, we can see it only edge-on rather than face-on.”
The image was captured by the Sun-orbiting Spitzer telescope during its “cold” mission, which ended ten years ago. “Blue light corresponds to Spitzer’s observations at a wavelength of 3.6 microns, produced mainly by stars; green corresponds to 4.5 microns, and red corresponds to 8 microns,” NASA said.