Spitzer space telescope which started its mission sixteen years ago is finishing it by the end of the week. The infrared telescope had started out by observing the Tarantula Nebula for its peculiar dust patterns and star formations which astronomers predicted would give more insight into the formation of nebulas. As the mission draws to a close, the telescope is gathering more information about the nebula.
"I think we chose the Tarantula Nebula as one of our first targets because we knew it would demonstrate the breadth of Spitzer's capabilities," said Michael Werner, Spitzer's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "That region has a lot of interesting dust structures and a lot of star formation happening, and those are both areas where infrared observatories can see a lot of things that you can't see in other wavelengths."
The tarantula nebula is located in a small galaxy very close to our home galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. One of the main reasons that the Spitzer space telescope was considered ideal to view the nebula is because it is full of dust from the star formation and the infrared properties of the telescope make it an ideal apparatus to observe the minute details.