SWIRE is the Spitzer
Extragalactic Legacy Survey. SWIRE
is the largest of six Legacy
Surveys being carried out for the benefit of the astronomical
community by teams selected by the
Spitzer Science Center.
SWIRE has imaged 49 square degrees of the sky (equavalent to the area
covered by about 250 full moons), covering six different
regions which have been carefully selected to be the best possible
infrared fields for detecting faint infrared galaxies and quasars.
SWIRE has taken over a month of the precious observing time on the
Spitzer Space Telescope to obtain detailed images in all 7 infrared
colors available to Spitzer.
Spitzer Space Telescope in earth-trailing orbit (artist's impression). Spitzer orbits the
sun, gradually trailing behind the earth in order to obtain the best possible conditions
for deep infrared observations.
SWIRE's six survey fields were selected to be away from the
direction of our Milky Way's disk of stars and as free as possible from
interplanetary or interstellar gas and dust. One of these fields called the
Lockman Hole near the star Kochab in the cup of the Big Dipper has been
known for some time to be a pristine field for extragalactic observations.
Three of our fields were surveyed by the European ISO satellite's
"Extragalactic Large Area Infrared Survey". Two are important because they
contain deep surveys with the US Chandra X-Ray satellite and the European
For more detailed public information about the individual SWIRE Survey Fields,
click on the icon to the left, or you can visit our
Astronomers' Survey Program
Although all the infrared images have now been taken, analysis of
the more than 100,000 images will continue until late 2006. These images
and the catalogs that are being created from them are expected to
point to over a million previously unknown infrared galaxies and quasars,
reaching back to within a billion years of the Big Bang. Experience
with previous infrared space telescopes such as
suggest that the SWIRE database will be a valuable source of research programs for a
decade or more.
Click here for details on SWIRE's
Catalogs, Images and other data products.