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SPACE WATCH

Spider Web of Stars
NASA – Looking like a spider’s web swirled into a spiral, GalaxyIC 342 presents its delicate pattern of dust in this image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Seen in infrared light, faint starlight gives way to the glowing bright patterns of dust found throughout the galaxy’s disk.

At a distance of about 10 million light-years, IC 342 is relatively close by galactic standards, however our vantage point places it directly behind the disk of our own Milky Way. The intervening dust makes it difficult to see in visible light, but infrared light penetrates this veil easily. IC 342 belongs to the same group as its even more obscured galactic neighbor, Maffei 2.

IC 342 is nearly face-on to our view, giving a clear, top-down view of the structure of its disk. It has a low surface brightness compared…

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