The Research Mission
The Spitzer Gould's Belt Survey is an expansive research project which will complete the observations of all prominent star-forming regions within 500 parsecs (approximately 1600 lightyears) of our Solar System. Taken together, these regions comprise a ring of molecular clouds and associated young stars known as the Gould's Belt. Using the Spitzer Space Telescope yields just part of the information about the Gould's Belt. The data from this project will be used in combination with observations from the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, Herschel Space Observatory, and previous Spitzer observations from the "Cores to Disks" Legacy program and from various Guaranteed Time and General Observer programs that studied star-forming regions within Gould's Belt. By combining data from these different facilities, astronomers will have a comprehensive database for studying star formation in unprecedented detail.
You may wonder "why are so many different observatories and telescopes required ?". Each one of these facilities are specialized, allowing astronomers to observe different aspects of the young stars under study. If you are interested in how the Spitzer Space Telescope sees the universe differently than we do, visit the Cool Cosmos site.
Astronomers, through the Gould's Belt Survey, are using multiple telescopes and observatories to look at forming and newborn stars within molecular clouds in space beyond our Solar System. Molecular clouds are the birthplace of stars, but not all molecular clouds contain the same quantity or distribution of stars. This research will allow astronomers to compare the variations in star formation region by region. The data obtained will lead to important checks of theories of star formation, the timescales of the evolutionary stages of young stars and the role of environment on the star formation process.