Infrared Legacy Gallery

About this Gallery

The universe of astronomy spans, quite literally, more than the eye can see. In the last two decades our view of the cosmos has dramatically expanded to include the regime of the infrared. At these wavelengths of light beyond the capability of human vision, one moves into a realm where opaque clouds of dust become at first transparent, revealing the treasured buried within and beyond. Then at even longer wavelengths the stars themselves fade into the background while the eye is drawn to the dust, now glowing brilliantly from its own thermal radiation.

The images in this gallery come from a variety of projects affiliated with the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC). Founded in 1982 to support the processing of data from the InfraRed Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), it has subsequently served as a science operations center and archive for a variety of space-based and ground-based missions including the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO), the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX), the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

While each of these missions has extensive galleries elsewhere on this site, the purpose of the Infrared Legacy Gallery is to showcase a smaller sample of the very best images.

Each image is accompanied by a caption as well as links to the mission and the original source for the image. Links are also provided for highest available resolution versions, suitable for print needs.

For more information about infrared astronomy, an extensive set of tutorials and resources are available on the Cool Cosmos site.

Cool Cosmos Home Infrared Legacy Gallery