About This Site

    Cool Cosmos at IPAC

    Cool Cosmos is a NASA education and outreach website for infrared astronomy and related topics, with information on all NASA-involved infrared missions, including the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), Herschel, Planck, the 2-Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS), the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST/AFTA), and Euclid. This site is hosted at IPAC (Infrared Processing and Analysis Center), and funded by NASA's Spitzer Science Center, at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

    IPAC was founded in 1985 to support the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) mission, which provided the first space-based survey of the infrared sky. Subsequently IPAC's role expanded to include science operations, data archives, and community support for ten astronomy and planetary science missions, with a special emphasis on infrared-submillimeter astronomy and exoplanet science.  IPAC also operates several data archives, including those enabling research in infrared astronomy (IRSA), exoplanets (NASA Exoplanet Archive), and extragalactic astronomy (NED).

    Cool Cosmos was established as a public portal to explore the many facets of the world and universe as seen through the marvels of infrared light. In light of the many advancements in infrared astronomy, infrared technology, and web technology the site was rebuilt and relaunched in 2013 to provide the best outreach and educational experiences for both desktop and mobile browsers.

    While much of the content from the original Cool Cosmos site has migrated to this new version, many smaller sections and older images were dropped in favor of a more easily navigated site with a clearer focus. Infrared images have been reshot using better infrared cameras and released at higher resolutions than possible before. However, the legacy Cool Cosmos site has been preserved for access to older content.

    Why "Cool Cosmos"?

    The name of the site reflects some of the core science ideas incorporated into the content. Everything in the universe radiates light. But where that light falls in the spectrum depends on the temperature.

    Very hot objects like our Sun, or the filament in a light bulb, glow most brightly in the visible part of the spectrum. However, for objects at cooler temperatures, ranging from normal human body temperatures down to dust clouds ten or twenty degrees above absolute zero, the corresponding light is emitted only in the infrared and submillimeter part of the spectrum.

    Thus in a very real sense, the "cool cosmos" is something best studied in infrared light.

    Site Credits

    This site is a product of the IPAC Communications and Education team.

    Web Development

    • Alan Mulhall
    • Jacob Llamas

    Content & Editorial

    • Shelley Bonus
    • Carolyn Brinkworth
    • David Cole
    • Varoujan Gorjian
    • Robert Hurt
    • Tim Pyle
    • Luisa Rebull
    • Gordon Squires
    • Juan Vargas

    Original Site Content

    • Linda Hermans
    • Doris Daou
    • Jim Keller
    • Michelle Thaller

    Published: 27 August, 2013

    Fun Fact

    The Sun generates light and heat through nuclear fusion in its core, but a photon of light created there takes tens of thousands of years to escape from the Sun. It then only takes 8 minutes to reach the Earth.