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NASA Finds Colorful Nebula Backed Up By ‘O’ Stars

June 16, 2011

On Thursday, NASA released a colorful image of the RCW 120 nebula taken bb the Spitzer space telescope.

This nebula is 4,300 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius just above the plane of the galaxy.

It emits a broad range of colors in the infrared region and has wavelengths beyond what humans can see.

The ring-shaped cloud of gas and dust is believed to have originated from the heat of giant “O” type stars at the ring’s center.

These are the largest and brightest stars scientists have discovered.  Infrared light is emitted from the surrounding gas and dust as these stars impart their heat.

Spitzer instruments were used to snap images of the RCW 120.  The colors blue, green and red in the image represent increasing wavelengths.  NASA said these colors are actually unable for a human to see without using infrared.

NASA said rings like this are common in Spitzer’s observations that astronomers have enlisted to help the public find and catalog them all.

The green haze being emitted from RCW 120 in the image is the diffuse glow of dust from the galactic plane.

Image Caption: This glowing emerald nebula seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope is reminiscent of the glowing ring wielded by the superhero Green Lantern. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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