Detail View: NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day Collection: Inside the Elephant's Trunk W. Reach (SSC [ http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/ index.shtml ]/Caltech) et al. [ http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/releases/ssc2003-06/ ssc2003-06b.shtml ], JPL [ http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ ], Caltech [ http://www.caltech.edu/ ], NASA [ http://www.nasa.gov/home/ ]

Title: 
Inside the Elephant's Trunk W. Reach (SSC [ http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/ index.shtml ]/Caltech) et al. [ http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/releases/ssc2003-06/ ssc2003-06b.shtml ], JPL [ http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ ], Caltech [ http://www.caltech.edu/ ], NASA [ http://www.nasa.gov/home/ ]
Explanation: 
In December of 2003, the world saw spectacular first images [ http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/releases/ ssc2003-06/index.shtml ] from the Spitzer Space Telescope [ http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/about/index.shtml ], including this penetrating interior view of an otherwise opaque dark globule known as the Elephant's Trunk Nebula [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap031019.html ]. Seen in a composite of infrared image data recorded by [ http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/releases/ssc2003-06/ quickfacts.shtml ] Spitzer's instruments, the intriguing region is embedded within [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap010720.html ] the glowing emission nebula IC 1396 at a distance of 2,450 light-years toward the constellation Cepheus. Previously undiscovered protostars hidden by dust at optical wavelengths appear as bright reddish objects within the globule. Shown in false-color [ http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/releases/ssc2003-06/ ssc2003-06b.shtml ], winding filaments of infrared emission span about 12 light-years and are due to dust, molecular hydrogen gas, and complex molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs [ http://www.chem.ucl.ac.uk/cosmicdust/pah.htm#what ]. The Spitzer Space Telescope [ http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/about/ fastfacts.shtml ] was formerly known [ http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/namingcontest/ index.shtml ] as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap030905.html ]) and is presently exploring the Universe at infrared [ http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/ ] wavelengths. Spitzer follows the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma-ray Observatory, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory as the final element in NASA's space-borne Great Observatories Program [ http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/postsecondary/ features/F_NASA_Great_Observatories_PS.html ].
facet_when: 
2003
facet_where: 
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)
facet_what: 
Cepheus
facet_when_year: 
2003
original url: 
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap050409.html
UID: 
SPD-APOD-ap050409