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NASA Spitzer Sends Image of 'Enterprise' Nebula on 'Star Trek' 50th Anniversary

Sep 10, 2016 05:22 AM EDT
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NASA's Spitzer spotted a Nebula that looks like the "Enterprise" spacecraft from "Star Trek" in time for the TV and movie franchise's 50th anniversary celebration.
(Photo : Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

NASA's Spitzer spotted a Nebula that looks like the "Enterprise" spacecraft from "Star Trek" in time for the TV and movie franchise's 50th anniversary celebration.

"Star Trek" first aired on Sept. 8, 1966 and NASA has always been an influence to the popular TV franchise. During the 50th anniversary of "Star Trek," NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope captured an infrared image of a fascinating nebula shaped like Captain James Kirk's "Enterprise" spacecraft.

The image taken by Spitzer has earned the interest of the public, especially "Star Trek" fans. The imaginary shapes of celestial formations such as the nebulae are a result of comparing celestial objects with real-life things when gazing into the skies. NASA calls the nebula "pareidolia," which is how most of the constellations are named like nebulas Ant, Stingray and Hourglass.

"On the right of the image, with a little scrutiny, you may see hints of the saucer and hull of the original USS Enterprise, captained by James T. Kirk, as if it were emerging from a dark nebula," a NASA official said in a press release. While on the left of the image, the "Next Generation" successor, Enterprise-D by Jean-Luc Picard is like flying to the opposite side.

The reference to the famous TV franchise made the nebulae more popular. The formation is located within the disk of the Milky Way galaxy. There are two separate parts of a star formation with the other one hidden under the hazy clouds of the Milky Way. But NASA Spitzer and its instruments were able to peek beyond dust grains, revealing fascinating stellar formations. The official names of the two nebulas are IRAS 193040+2016 and IRAS19343+2026.

"Enterprise" was photographed during Spitzer's surveys of the Milky Way galaxy using thermal radiation.

Earlier this year, NASA already showed support to "Star Trek" 50th anniversary by fact checking the science behind "Star Trek". According to NASA, some of the fictitious parts mentioned in the TV franchise are now possible like deep space travel, hologram technology and innovative engine systems.

The agency was also very supportive of the latest "Star Trek" movie. They even sent a NASA officer to test the NASA knowledge of "Star Trek "actors Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine in a science quiz during the press launching of the movie. This strengthens the long and interesting connection between the TV franchise and the U.S. premiere space agency.

'Star Trek' Star William Shatner All Praises for NASA
NASA's International Space Station Paves Way for Farther Space Travel, 'Star Trek' Warp Travel Possible?
Star Trek Stars Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto Test their NASA Knowledge In A Space Quiz


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