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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Astrophysics Science Division | Sciences and Exploration

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Seeing in Infrared

The Egg Nebula is shown in visible light on the left. On the right, NICMOS is able to see through obscuring dust to the heart of the nebula.

Hubble and NICMOS
NICMOS is about the size of a telephone booth. It is located in the aft section of Hubble in its axial bay.
The Near Infrared Camera/Multi-Object Spectrometer or NICMOS, gave astronomers their first clear view of the universe at near-infrared wavelengths (between 0.8 and 2.5 micrometers) - out of the range of the human eye and previous Hubble instruments.

Various secrets about the birth of stars, solar systems, and galaxies are revealed in infrared light, which can penetrate the interstellar gas and dust that block visible light. In addition, the light from distant receding objects (the universe is expanding) shifts into infrared wavelengths (called red-shift). By studying objects and phenomena in this spectral region, astronomers probe our universe's past, present, and future, study how galaxies, stars, and planetary systems form, and learn a great deal about our universe's basic nature.

NICMOS has three channels giving it the capability for both infrared imaging and spectroscopic observations of astronomical targets.

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More . . .
3D animation of Hubble - zooming in close to the location of NICMOS.
Interactive 3D model of Hubble which you can rotate at different angles.