IC 342

IC342Looking like a spider’s web swirled into a spiral, the galaxy IC 342 shows a delicate pattern of dust in this infrared image from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Data from Spitzer’s infrared array camera (IRAC) are shown in blue (3.6 and 4.5 µm) and green (5.8 and 8.0 µm), while the multiband imaging photometer (MIPS) observation is red (24 µm).

IC 342 is relatively close by galaxy standards, only 10 million or so light years away, but it’s directly behind the disk of our own Milky Way. The intervening dust makes it difficult to see in visible light, but infrared light penetrates easily. IC 342 is nearly face-on to our view, giving a clear, top-down view of the structure of its disk. Its relatively low surface brightness indicates a lower density of stars (seen here as the blue haze). Its dust structures show up much better (yellow-green). Those blue dots are nearby stars in the foreground..

Image Credit: NASA


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