the interstellar dust clouds which line the Galactic plane. Above is a false color image of the entire sky made by the DIRBE instrument onboard NASA's COBE Satellite using infrared light with a wavelength of 3.5 microns - about 7 times longer than the wavelength of visible light. The galactic plane runs horizontally along the middle of the image. At this wavelength, the cool stars in our galaxy shine brightly and can be seen to define the plane of the Milky Way and the central bulge. Interplanetary dust, which tends to lie along the plane of our own solar system, scatters sunlight and emits radiation at these wavelengths too. The faint glow it produces results in the "S" shape apparent in this infrared all-sky view.
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NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.
Based on Astronomy Picture Of the Day