Spectacular Image of Heart of Phantom Galaxy Showcases Webb’s Power

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This image from the James Webb Space Telescope shows the heart of M74, also known as the Phantom Galaxy. Webb’s keen eye has revealed fine filaments of gas and dust in the grand spiral arms that snake out from the center of this image. A lack of gas in the nuclear region also provides an unobstructed view of the nuclear star cluster at the center of the galaxy. Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST team

Incredible new images of the spectacular Phantom Galaxy, M74, show the power of space observatories working together across multiple wavelengths. In this case, data from the[{” attribute=””>James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope complement each other to provide a comprehensive view of the galaxy.

The Phantom Galaxy is located approximately 32 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Pisces. It lies almost face-on to Earth. This, coupled with its well-defined spiral arms, makes it a favorite target for astronomers studying the origin and structure of galactic spirals.


New images of the Phantom Galaxy, M74, show the power of space observatories working together in multiple wavelengths. This video shows the image of the Milky Way from the Hubble Space Telescope, showing the older, redder stars toward the center, to younger and bluer stars in its spiral arms, to the most active stellar formation in the red bubbles of H II regions. The image from the James Webb Space Telescope is strikingly different, but it highlights the gas and dust masses in the arms of the galaxy and the dense star cluster at the core. The combined image of M74 merges the two for a truly unique look at this “great design” spiral galaxy.

M74 is a particular class of spiral galaxies known as a grand design spiral. This means that its spiral arms are prominent and well-defined, unlike the patchy and ragged structure seen in some spiral galaxies.

Webb’s keen eye has revealed delicate filaments of gas and dust in M74’s grandiose spiral arms, which snake outwards from the center of the frame. A lack of gas in the nuclear region also provides an unobstructed view of the nuclear star cluster at the center of the galaxy.

Phantom Galaxy across the spectrum

M74 shines at its brightest in this combined optical/mid-infrared image, with data from both the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope.
With Hubble’s venerable Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Webb’s powerful Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) capturing a range of wavelengths, this new image has remarkable depth. The reds highlight dust threaded through the arms of the galaxy, lighter oranges are areas of hotter dust. The young stars in the arms and core are shown in blue. Heavier, older stars toward the center of the galaxy are rendered in cyan and green, projecting a ghostly glow from the core of the Phantom Galaxy. Bubbles of star formation are also visible in pink across the arms. Such a variety of galactic features is rare to see in a single image.
Scientists combine data from telescopes operating across the electromagnetic spectrum to really understand astronomical objects. In this way, data from Hubble and Webb complement each other to provide a comprehensive view of the spectacular M74 galaxy.
Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST team; ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Chandar Recognition: J. Schmidt

Webb peered into M74 using his Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) to learn about the earliest stages of star formation in the local universe. These observations are part of a larger effort to map 19 nearby star-forming galaxies in infrared through the international PHANGS collaboration. Those galaxies have already been observed using the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories.

The addition of crystal-clear Webb observations at longer wavelengths will allow astronomers to locate star-forming regions in the galaxies, accurately measure the masses and ages of star clusters, and gain insight into the nature of the tiny dust grains floating in interstellar space.


This image from the James Webb Space Telescope shows the heart of M74, also known as the Phantom Galaxy. Webb’s keen eye has revealed fine filaments of gas and dust in the grand spiral arms that snake out from the center of this image. A lack of gas in the nuclear region also provides an unobstructed view of the nuclear star cluster at the center of the galaxy. M74 is a specific class of spiral galaxies known as a “grand design spiral,” meaning that the spiral arms are prominent and well-defined, unlike the patchy and ragged structure seen in some spiral galaxies.

Hubble observations of M74 have revealed particularly bright star-forming regions known as HII regions. Hubble’s sharp vision at ultraviolet and visible wavelengths complements Webb’s unparalleled sensitivity at infrared wavelengths, as do observations from ground-based radio telescopes such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, ALMA.

By combining data from telescopes operating across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, scientists can gain more insight into astronomical objects than with a single observatory — even one as powerful as Webb!

Multi-observatory faces of M74

New images of the Phantom Galaxy, M74, show the power of space observatories working together in multiple wavelengths.
On the left, the Hubble Space Telescope’s image of the Milky Way ranges from the older, redder stars toward the center, to younger and bluer stars in its spiral arms, to the most active stellar formation in the red bubbles of H II regions. On the right, the image from the James Webb Space Telescope is strikingly different, instead highlighting the gas and dust masses in the arms of the galaxy and the dense star cluster at its core. The combined image in the center merges the two for a truly unique look at this “grand design” spiral galaxy.
Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST team; ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Chandar Recognition: J. Schmidt

About Webb

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and explore the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by[{” attribute=””>NASA with its partners, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency. The major contributions of ESA to the mission are: the NIRSpec instrument; the MIRI instrument optical bench assembly; the provision of the launch services; and personnel to support mission operations. In return for these contributions, European scientists will get a minimum share of 15% of the total observing time, like for the Hubble Space Telescope.


M74 shines at its brightest in this combined optical/mid-infrared image, with data from both the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope. With Hubble’s venerable Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Webb’s powerful Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) capturing a range of wavelengths, this new image has remarkable depth. The reds highlight dust threaded through the arms of the galaxy, lighter oranges are areas of hotter dust. The young stars in the arms and core are shown in blue. Heavier, older stars toward the center of the galaxy are rendered in cyan and green, projecting a ghostly glow from the core of the Phantom Galaxy. Bubbles of star formation are also visible in pink across the arms. Such a variety of galactic features is rare to see in a single image.

MIRI was contributed by ESA and NASA, and the instrument was designed and built by a consortium of nationally funded European institutions (the MIRI European Consortium) in collaboration with JPL and the University of Arizona.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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