The first series of JWST images not enough for you? Here are new beautiful shots of a pair of galaxies!
Nothing can stop the James Webb Space Telescope! The machine has only recently been officially operational, but it is already bombarding researchers with scientific data of incredible accuracy. For the general public, this is also a golden opportunity to enjoy a bunch of beautiful images, and there are new items on the menu! After the farthest image ever obtained in infrared, then Stephan’s Quintet, Carina Nebula and Southern Ring Nebula (see our article), astronomer Judy Schmidt presents today a new series of amazing images.
The interested party is a licensed galaxy hunter who has spent most of his career investigating these cosmic structures. Over the years, it has built an extensive database by compiling hundreds of hours of observations with some of the world’s most efficient telescopes. We also strongly recommend that you browse it large collection of images on his Flickr account.
He is usually the type of specialist who must be impatiently awaiting the arrival of JWST. So he hastened to reserve an observation time for the new lover of astronomers. And not surprisingly, this $10 billion telescope allows him to create stunning images.
The “Ghost Galaxy” is revealed
It revealed two spiral galaxies, both close to the Milky Way. The first, officially called NGC 628 or Messier 74, is better known by the nickname “Phantom Galaxy”. It owes this nickname to its relatively low brightness that makes it difficult for amateurs to observe, despite the fact that it is close to Earth (32 million light-years).
What drives the public to observe it above all is its presence two separate arms form a near perfect spiral. For fans, this is an amazing sight that makes it one of the most photogenic things in the universe. But for researchers, it’s also a first-class scientific resource.
In fact, astronomers have concluded that these extremely gas-and-dust appendages are also stellar nurseriesie regions of the cosmos where stars are born at a maddating rate.
The ins and outs of this process are still relatively unknown. So Messier 74 is a real open-air laboratory – it’s true what it says – because study the life cycle of stars.
However, this cycle is a fundamental element of the dynamics of the cosmos. Astronomers are convinced that by studying it, they can improve their understanding of the general movement of our universe. And with JWST backing it up, it may only be a matter of time before Messier 74 begins to reveal its best secrets!
A rare cousin of the Milky Way
Another image revealed by Schmidt concerns NGC 7496, another galaxy located even closer, 24 million light-years away. Structurally, it differs from NGC 628. Like our good old Milky Way, it is a barred spiral galaxy. In this case, the arms do not come directly from the center of the spiral, but from a wide band of stars running through it.
At first glance, the cliché almost seems disappointing; it’s surprisingly poor compared to the best pictures Hubble has ever taken. But for astronomers, this does not mean that there is nothing to see, far from it!
As a reminder, both devices operate on different bases. Hubble’s “eyes” were designed to capture visible light and ultraviolet radiation; the JWST, on the other hand, is designed to observe theinfrared. In practice, these two images are therefore complementary; the newcomer makes it possible to observe details that its noble predecessor never caught.
And this cooperation is likely to breathe new life into the study of NGC 7496. Because if the pictures of this good old Hubby a wonderful gift for the general public, it is also a source of frustration for astronomers. In fact, all these piles of gas and dust are likely hide the most interesting partwhich is the central cluster of stars.
JWST, on the other hand, has no problem ignoring this cloud. So he can observe directly the heart of this structure. Also, it is a huge star factory that researchers can study from every angle.
Two more examples that clearly show the extent to which James Webb has already changed astronomy… So we will give you an appointment when the next images arrive, which should not be too long if given the current rate of telescope production!