Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

NASA has shared an incredible image of a colorful nebula that might just remind you of a particular fictional monster from Japan.

The image, taken from the now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope, has bright spots ‘like the piercing eyes and the elongated snout’ of Godzilla.

Godzilla, often referred to as the ‘King of Monsters’, has been the subject of the world’s longest running film series since its debut on the big screen in 1954.

This particular nebula, in the constellation Sagittarius in the southern hemisphere, is dotted with stunning kaleidoscopic colors representing different wavelengths of infrared light.

Can you see Godzilla?  The image, taken by the now retired Spitzer Space Telescope, has bright spots such as the penetrating eyes and the elongated snout of the fictional monster from Japan
If you missed it, a stencil drawn around the fog brings the fictional monster to life

When seen in visible light that the friendly human eye can detect, this fog is almost completely obscured by clouds of dust. But infrared light – wavelengths longer than our eyes can perceive – can penetrate the clouds and reveal its astonishing beauty

A nebula is a huge cloud of dust and gas that occupies the space between stars and acts as a nursery for new stars.

Mists form when a star larger than our sun begins to die, emitting a solar wind of gas.

If you missed it, a stencil drawn around the fog brings the fictional monster to life.

But if you think you can draw a better version, NASA lets the public draw their own stencil with the Spitzer Artistronomy web app.

Godzilla has been the subject of the world's longest-running film franchise since its debut on the big screen in 1954. Pictured is a still image from the 1954 film 'Godzilla'.

Godzilla has been the subject of the world’s longest-running film franchise since its debut on the big screen in 1954. Pictured is a still image from the 1954 film ‘Godzilla’.

HOW TO MAKE A NEBULA?

Planetary nebulae form when a star larger than our sun begins to die and emits a solar wind of gas.

As it gets older, the wind becomes more violent and collides with fragments of old star and forms strange shapes.

Later, the outer layers of the star are blown off, exposing the hot core of the star, which lights up the surrounding gas and causes the eerie glow.

Only when the glow begins is the fog visible to the Earth.

Factors such as how the star spins, what angle it is seen in and the chemical composition of the gas affect the shape of the nebula.

The new image was shared by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is administered by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

‘I was not looking for monsters,’ said Caltech astronomer Robert Hurt, who processed the image and was the first to see Godzilla.

‘I just happened to be looking at an area in the sky that I have browsed many times before but I had never zoomed in on.

“Sometimes, if you just crop an area differently, it brings out something you haven’t seen before. It was the eyes and the mouth that roared ‘Godzilla’ at me. ‘

The Godzilla-like nebula is located in the constellation Sagittarius along the plane of the Milky Way, which was part of Spitzer’s GLIMPSE Survey (Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire).

NASA says: ‘Stars at the top right – where this cosmic Godzilla’s eyes and snout are seen – are an unknown distance from Earth, but within our galaxy.

‘Located about 7,800 light-years from Earth, the bright area at the bottom left is shown as Godzilla’s right hand, known as the W33.’

When seen in visible light that the friendly human eye can detect, this fog is almost completely obscured by clouds of dust.

But infrared light – wavelengths longer than our eyes can perceive – can penetrate the clouds and reveal its astonishing beauty.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope retired last year after more than 16 years of exploring the universe in infrared light

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope retired last year after more than 16 years of exploring the universe in infrared light

SPITZER VED TAL

1 of NASA’s four major observatories

3 scientific instruments on board

85cm telescope mirror

16.4 years in space

More than 36.5 million raw pictures taken

The most distant objects seen as they appeared 13.4 billion years ago

90.1 percent observes efficiency

From 30 January 2020

Source: NASA

Four colors – blue, cyan, green and red – are used to represent different wavelengths of infrared light; yellow and white are combinations of these wavelengths.

Blue and cyan represent wavelengths emitted primarily by stars, while dust and organic molecules called hydrocarbons appear green, and hot dust that has been heated by stars or supernovae looks red.

Nebulae are often named based on what scientists perceive as similarities with terrestrial objects or characters, including a cat’s paw, a tarantula, and a veil.

Astronomers have also perceived a black widow spider, a Halloween lantern, a snake, a bare human brain and Starship Enterprise in Spitzer images, among others.

Spitzer retired in January 2020, but scientists continue to mine its massive datasets to get new information about the universe as well as impressive new images.

“It’s one of the ways we want people to connect with the incredible work that Spitzer did,” Hurt said.

‘I’m looking for compelling areas that can really tell a story. “Sometimes it’s a story about how stars and planets are formed, and sometimes it’s about a giant monster raging through Tokyo.”

This image from Spitzer shows the Cat's Paw fog, which is named after the large, round features that create the impression of a cat's footprint.  The nebula is a star-forming region in the Milky Way galaxy, located in the constellation Scorpius

This image from Spitzer shows the Cat’s Paw fog, which is named after the large, round features that create the impression of a cat’s footprint. The nebula is a star-forming region in the Milky Way galaxy, located in the constellation Scorpius

The Tarantula Nebula shows the full breadth of Spitzer's capabilities, according to project researcher Michael Werner of the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in California.  Spitzer retired in January 2020

The Tarantula Nebula shows the full breadth of Spitzer’s capabilities, according to project researcher Michael Werner of the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in California. Spitzer retired in January 2020

Spitzer was one of NASA’s four large observatories – large, powerful space-based astronomical telescopes launched between 1990 and 2003.

The amazing four – Spitzer, Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope – were each built to specifically observe areas of the light spectrum.

Satellite light readings can allow scientists to distinguish the mass and size of stars in other galaxies and their planets passing in front of them.

The Great Observatories program demonstrated the power of using different wavelengths of light to create a more complete picture of the universe, NASA said.

Of the four, only Hubble and Chandra are now active since Compton was shut down in 2000.

All Spitzer data is free and available to the public in Spitzer’s data archive.

WHAT WAS THE SPRITZER SPACE TELESCOPIC?

The Spitzer Space Telescope – formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility – was an infrared cousin of the Hubble Space Telescope.

It consisted of a space-borne, cryogenically cooled telescope with lightweight optics that provided light for advanced large-format infrared detector arrays

It was able to study objects right from our solar system to the distant parts of the universe.

As it looked back into the early universe, it looked at young galaxies and formed stars.

It is also used to detect dust disks around stars that are considered an important guide to planetary formation.

The mission was the fourth and final observatory under NASA’s Great Observatories program.

Major observatories also included the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

Spitzer was launched in 2003 in orbit around the sun, trailing behind the Earth and drifting in a benign thermal environment.

By using this orbit, the spacecraft could adopt an innovative ‘warm-launch’ architecture, where only the payload of the instrument is cooled at launch.

By using special cooling in deep space, Spitzer was able to transport far less liquid helium than any previous infrared mission, reducing the mission’s development costs.

The four large observatories telescopes:

Hubble Space Telescope (1990-) observe visible light and almost ultraviolet.

Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (1991-2000) observed gamma rays and hard X-rays.

Chandra X-ray Observatory (1999-) observe soft X-rays.

Spitzer space telescope (2003-2020) observed the infrared spectrum.

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