This image composite compares infrared and visible views of the famous Orion nebula and its surrounding cloud, an industrious star-making region located near the hunter constellation's sword. The picture at left was taken with the Infrared Array Camera on board NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and the picture at right is from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, headquartered in Tucson, Ariz.
Above the Orion nebula, where the massive stars have not yet ejected much of the obscuring dust, the visible image appears dark with only a faint glow. In contrast, the infrared view penetrates the dark lanes of dust, revealing bright swirling clouds and numerous developing stars that have shot out jets of gas (green). This is because infrared light can travel through dust, whereas visible light is stopped short by it.