IC4954 seen by AKARI IRC
Images of the reflection nebula IC4954 taken by the near- and mid-InfraRed Camera (IRC) on-board AKARI (left) and the IRAS satellite (right). The great improvement in resolution and sensitivity by the AKARI instruments is clearly seen.
IC4954 is at a distance of about 6000 light years and extends more than 10 light years across. Star formation has been taken place in this region over several million years. Recently born stars are embedded in gas and dust and thereby obscured at visible wavelengths. In this infrared image taken at 9 μm by the IRC on-board AKARI, however, it is possible to see individual recently born stars, as well as the gas clouds from which they emerge.
Launched in 1983, the Infra-Red Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) was the first mission to make a complete infrared survey of the entire sky. The mission resulted from the joint venture between the USA, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. With the improved resolution and sensitivity of its instruments, AKARI will be able to detect even more and fainter sources during its survey of the infrared sky.