Skip to main content
Celestial Tour: Infrared: Seeing More

Infrared: Seeing More

Discover infrared, the invisible light beyond the red end of the rainbow, and what it reveals to us about the universe. 
Celestial Tour: Infrared: Seeing More: Video Segments

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute, Office of Public Outreach.

Images and Animations:

  • Image (under title), Carina Nebula.NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Image, Carina Nebula, South Pillar region. NASA/JPL-Caltech/N. Smith (University of Colorado at Boulder)

  • Graphic animation, electromagnetic spectrum. NASA, STScI/D. Player

  • Images, Herbig Haro 901 in visible and infrared. NASA, ESA and STScI/G. Bacon

  • Image, Carina Nebula, Spitzer. NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Image, Carina Nebula, Herschel. ESA/Herschel/SPIRE/PACS/Thomas Preisbisch

  • Images, dusty pillar in visible and infrared. NASA, ESA and STScI/G. Bacon

  • Animation, distant galaxies and early universe. NASA, STScI/D. Player

  • Image, Flame Nebula, visible light. Digital Sky Survey. 

  • Image, Flame Nebula, infrared light. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Writing: Leah Ramsay
Design: Dani Player
Science review lead: Dr. Quyen Hart
Education lead: Timothy Rhue II
Additional editorial input from: Dr. Varoujan Gorjian
Music: Yesh Music (ASCAP)

 Title, Infrared, Seeing More. A wispy purple cloud brightens to red on a background of stars. Text, Telescopes have extended the reach of our eyes and shown us the universe's wonders. 


 Beyond the visible light our eyes can detect, there is even more to see. 

Past the red end of the visible-light rainbow is infrared light. On a background of stars, to the right of a rainbow-colored block, marked Visible, stretch five red-colored blocks, marked Infrared, each a lighter shade than the one before. 

To the left of the block marked Visible are blocks marked Gamma, X-ray, and Ultraviolet. To the right of the blocks marked Infrared are blocks marked Microwave and Radio. Text, infrared telescopes reveal a hidden universe. 

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope can see light slightly past red, called near-infrared. The longer wavelengths of infrared light can pass through dust clouds. Here they reveal concealed stars in the Carina Nebula. Pinpoints of light shine on a glowing lavender-gray cloud. 

Text, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope sees further into the infrared, showing structures of warm gas and dust. Points of white and blue shine on a glowing purple cloud. 

Text, Radiation from the massive binary star Eta Carinae sculpts cavities in the nebula, leaving dusty pillars pointing back toward it. A translucent block highlights the left-most Infrared block, then moves to the second and third blocks. 

Text, In the far-infrared, ESA's Herschel Space Observatory sees even more detail in Carina's dust. The highlight moves to the last two of the five Infrared blocks. Points of light shine on a glowing, yellowish-white cloud. 

Text, The nebula glows in the far-infrared, heated by young stars forming inside dense cocoons of gas and dust. In visible light, star formation is shrouded in mystery. The highlight moves back to the block marked Visible, and a red-orange cloud glows on a background of stars. 

Text, Infrared light reveals the young star at the top of this pillar, blasting jets out into the universe. 

Telescopes that detect infrared light are also able to see very old light from when the universe was young. Faint gray lines spiderweb along the left of a reddish-black background with points of red light. 

Title, Distant Galaxies. Text, As light travels across space and time, the expansion of the universe stretches the wavelengths. 

Visible light from the distant universe is stretched to longer, infrared wavelengths. A sine wave loosens as it travels from left to right across a background of stars and galaxies. 

Text, Infrared telescopes allow us to see the distant, early universe and learn how galaxies have developed over time. 

Points of light shine in a glowing, grayish-white cloud. Text, There is so much more to the universe than what our eyes can see. A wispy cloud of reddish light glows on a black background of stars. 

Infrared-detecting telescopes reveal a hidden universe, showing there is even more to explore. 

The camera pulls away to show 25 colorful photos of galaxies, in clouds and spirals of reds, blues, and greens.