NASA and its partners have shared more beautiful images from the observatory on the James Webb Space Telescope. This time they took a fresh look at the Veil Galaxy, which Hubble and other telescopes had previously seen. NASA said JWST was able to reveal new details about the star formation and black hole at the center of the Milky Way, 500 million light-years from Earth.
Using infrared light detection, JWST was able to see the Veil Galaxy more clearly through dust obscuring it from other telescopes observing it. The image above is a combination of JWST’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). A higher resolution version is available on the JWST website.
Data from JWST’s primary imager, NIRCam, are shown in blue, orange, and yellow, with MIRI data in red. Blue dots appearing in swirls of red dust are individual stars or small clusters of star formation. “NIRCam also revealed differences between the smooth distribution or shape of the dense dust in the core and the clumpy shape associated with the young stellar population beyond,” the agency noted.
Meanwhile, MIRI was able to find more details about the galaxy’s dust. It found areas rich in hydrocarbons and other chemicals, and silicate dust similar to many on Earth. These regions form many spiral spokes, giving the image of the Wheel Galaxy its name. Hubble had been able to image these spokes before, but they were much sharper in JWST’s observations.
NASA has also provided a mirror image of the galaxy. This image from Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) shows a group of galaxies, including a large curved ring galaxy called the Chakra. Located 500 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor, the Die Wheel Galaxy consists of a bright inner ring and an active outer ring. Although there is a lot of star formation in this outer ring, the dust in between shows many stars and constellations.
The Wheel Galaxy was formed after a large spiral galaxy collided with a smaller galaxy. It has two rings, a bright inner ring and a colorful outer ring. The outer ring expanded from the center of the collision for about 440 million years.
The inner ring contains “significant amounts of hot dust,” NASA said. The brightest regions contain large clusters of young stars. Meanwhile, the outer ring has star formation and supernovae. Stars form when they expand and collapse into the surrounding gas.
NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency and the Space Telescope Science Institute revealed the first full-color images of JWST last month. It includes a “cosmic cliff” showing the Carina Nebula, as well as looking at stars in their early stages of formation. The telescope also spotted Arendal, the most distant star in the known universe. Although JWST’s scientific work is still in its early stages, it’s already helping scientists gain a deeper understanding of the universe — and providing the rest of us with some incredible images.
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