LOS ANGELES, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected a new Galaxy called NGC 5866, which lies 44 million light-years from Earth and has a diameter of roughly 60,000 light-years -- a little more than half the diameter of our own Milky Way galaxy.
According to an image released by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Wednesday, a long red beam in the center of the image is the galaxy NGC 5866. As viewed from Earth, only the edge of NGC 5866 can be seen, and most of its structural features are invisible.
Spitzer detects infrared light, and the red color in the image corresponds to an infrared wavelength typically emitted by dust.
With a consistency similar to soot or thick smoke, the dust absorbs light from stars, then reemits light at longer wavelengths, including in infrared.
The clean edges of the dust emission from NGC 5866 indicate that there is a very flat ring or disk of dust circling the outer region of the galaxy, according to the JPL.
Trying to learn about the history and shape of NGC 5866 is challenging due to its orientation, said the JPL.
Spitzer took this image during its "cold" mission, which ended in 2009. The colors represent three infrared wavelengths captured by the Infrared Array Camera instrument.
Blue light corresponds to Spitzer's observations at a wavelength of 3.6 microns, produced mainly by stars; green corresponds to 4.5 microns; and red corresponds to 8 microns, according to the JPL.
Launched on Aug. 25, 2003, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope provides a unique, infrared view of the universe and allows scientists to peer into regions of space that are hidden from optical telescopes.
After nearly 16 years of exploring the cosmos in infrared light, Spitzer will be switched off permanently on Jan. 30, 2020.