Skip to main content

Infrared: Seeing More

Discover infrared, the invisible light beyond the red end of the rainbow, and what it reveals to us about the universe. 
Credits

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

Images and Animations:
 
·        Webb Telescope image of Carina Nebula: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI
 
·        Graphic animation, electromagnetic spectrum: NASA, STScI/D. Player
 
·        Hubble image of Eagle Nebula Pillars of Creation: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
 
·        Webb Telescope NIRCam image of Eagle Nebula Pillars of Creation: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI. Image Processing: Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Anton M. Koekemoer (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI)
 
·        Webb Telescope MIRI image of Eagle Nebula Pillars of Creation: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI. Image Processing: Joseph DePasquale, Alyssa Pagan.
 
·        Spitzer Telescope image of Eagle Nebula: ASA/JPL-Caltech/N. Flagey (IAS/SSC & A. Noriega-Crespo (SSC/Caltech)
 
·        Herschel Telescope image of Eagle Nebula: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/Hill, Motte, HOBYS
 
·        Images, Herbig Haro 666 in visible and infrared: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team (STScI)
 
·        Animation, distant galaxies and early universe. NASA, STScI/D. Player
 
·        Webb Telescope deep field image of SMACS 0723: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI.
 
·        Hubble image of Tarantula Nebula: NASA, ESA, and E. Sabbi/STScI
 
·        Webb NIRCam image of Tarantula Nebula: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI.
 
·        Webb MIRI image of Tarantula Nebula: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI.


Writing: Leah Ramsay
Design: Joseph Olmstead, Dani Player
Science review: Drs. Quyen Hart and Christopher Britt
Education review: Timothy Rhue II and Yesenia Perez
Additional editorial input from: Dr. Varoujan Gorjian
Music: Yesh Music (ASCAP)
Transcript

(DESCRIPTION)
Title, Infrared. Seeing More. A wispy purple cloud brightens to variegated shades of tan on a background of stars. Text, Telescopes have extended the reach of our eyes and shown us the universe's wonders.
 
(SPEECH)
[TRANQUIL MUSIC]
 
(DESCRIPTION)
Beyond the visible light our eyes can detect, there is even more to see.
 
Stars shine with more or less brightness over the image.
 
Text, 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, with a line drawing of an eye over it, stretch five blocks, marked Infrared, that go from a rust brown on the left to a light tan on the right.
 
The strip of blocks shrink down to a thin band at the bottom of the screen which extends on either side in grey-scale. To the left of the section marked Visible are blocks marked Gamma, X-ray, and Ultraviolet. To the right of the section marked Infrared are sections marked Microwave and Radio. A sine wave covers the strip, with tight oscillations at the left end, Gamma, that gradually widen as they move toward the right end, Radio. The thin section of the Visible light band is covered with a white highlight, and the Visible band is shown below the strip. A background image has three pillars of tan and rust gas formations against a background in shades of blue and purple, with stars of varying sizes over the image.
 
Text, infrared telescopes reveal a hidden universe.
 
The color and intensity of the image changes. The background becomes darker in shades of blue with a dense cover of stars, and the pillars change from muted dark tan and rust to bright light tan and brown with patches of rust.
 
Text, NASA's Hubble and Webb Space Telescopes can see light slightly past red, called near-infrared. The white highlight over the Visible light spectrum moves to the right and covers the first section of the infrared band with a translucent white highlight with a white line that extends above the strip.
 
Text, The longer wavelengths of infrared light can pass through dust.
 
In the Eagle Nebula's Pillars of Creation, Webb reveals thousands of previously un-seen stars.
 
Webb and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope also see further into the infrared. The white highlighting over the strip at the bottom moves to the right over the second and third sections of the infrared band. The area is labeled Webb Space Telescope.
 
Text, In mid-infrared light, hot stars fade from view and more detailed structure of dust is revealed.
 
Points of white and blue angle to the right against a rust and black background. Stars shine across the image.
 
Text, The densest, coldest areas remain dark. The area above the strip that was labeled Webb Space Telescope now reads Wide-Field View --Spitzer Space Telescope. The image behind shows the pillar in light shades of tan against a background of pink with spots of light.
 
Text, This is where future stars are sheltered in a protective dusty cocoon. The image recedes and the area below the pillars is in bright shades of green and dark blue covered with stars of varying brightness.
 
The white highlighting on the spectrum moves to the right over the fourth and fifth sections of the infrared portion of the strip.
 
Text, ESA's Herschel Space Observatory shows the region in far-infrared light, where cooler gas glows. Multi-colored clouds with the lower corners in rust with several points of light slowly turn. The highlight moves back to the block marked Visible, and a brown-orange cloud glows on a background of stars against a dark blue background.
 
Text, In visible light, star formation is shrouded in mystery.
 
The highlighting moves to the first section of infrared as the brown-orange cloud fades to a clear blue-grey, the blue background changes to black and the stars become more dense and brighter.
 
Text, Infrared light reveals the young star at the top of this pillar, blasting jets out into the universe.
 
Black screen. Text, Telescopes that detect infrared light are also able to see very old light from when the universe was young.
 
An image enters from the right and moves across the screen. Faint gray lines spiderweb along the left of a reddish-black background with points of red and yellow light.
 
Text, As light travels across space and time, the expansion of the universe stretches the wavelengths.
 
Title, Distant Galaxies.
 
To the right of the reddish-black background, the color darkens as it goes right and the red and yellow points of light change to light blue with small points of bright blue.
 
A sine wave loosens as it travels from left to right across a background of galaxies. Text, Visible light from the distant universe is stretched to longer, infrared wavelengths. The sine wave loosens further and appears over a grid as the image moves right and the grid fades away.
 
Text, Infrared telescopes allow us to see the distant, early universe and learn how galaxies have developed over time. The image recedes into a band with the sine wave tight at the left end and loose at the right end. The color is orange-red at the left end and changes to purple, then turquoise, then green and then black on the right half. Points of light on the left change to galaxies on the right half, and a planet appears at the end of the sine wave on the right.
 
Text, Deep infrared observations will answer long-standing questions about the first galaxies:
 
Did they already have central supermassive black holes? When did they first form?
 
Bright lights move forward. Black screen.
 
Text, There is so much more to the universe than what our eyes can see. A wispy cloud of rust and white light glows on a black background of stars.
 
Text, Infrared-detecting telescopes reveal a hidden universe, showing there is even more to explore. The image moves in on a bright star that shines against a black background with points of blue light surrounded by clouds of white with areas of rust and a section behind of dense blue-white points of light.
 
The image recedes to show 25 colorful photos of galaxies, in clouds and spirals of reds, pinks, blues and greens.