AKARI first light

Back in February, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) launched the ASTRO-F mission, promptly renaming it AKARI (translates as "light"). The mission is a 0.7 metre infrared telescope that will survey the entire sky for warm objects such as dusty galaxies and dust/gas clouds where stars form. That will take a while, but some great 'first light' images have already been released.

Below are some images that AKARI took of the galaxy M81 at six different wavelengths of infrared light. Whilst the optical images of M81 generally show you where the stars are, the infrared tells you where the dust is. By studying galaxies such as M81 in the different colours of the electromagnetic spectrum, astronomers can try to work out what is going on in them.

Near- and mid-infrared images of the galaxy M81
Near- and mid-infrared images of the galaxy M81 observed by AKARI at wavelengths of 3, 4, 7, 11, 15, and 24 microns. CREDIT: JAXA/ISAS/LIRA

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 30th May 2006 (17:21 UTC) | Permalink
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