webb‘s newest image release is a special collaboration with the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists combined data of the two observatories to produce this spectacular images of the spiraling Phantom Galaxy (also known as Messier 74), located about 32 million light-years from Earth.
The images capture gas clouds, dust and star-forming regions in the galaxy in sharp relief. You can even view the distant cosmos beyond the rusty arms of the galaxy, as seen in optical and mid-infrared light
According to the GuardianMessier 74 has been nicknamed the Phantom Galaxy because of its weakness, which makes it difficult to see in the sky. Fortunately, the Webb Space Ttelescope, launched in December and commissioned this spring, is the most powerful observatory in space yet.
M74’s position – almost directly opposite Earth – and its well-articulated spiral arms make it a great target for astronomers studying the galactic evolution. The galaxy also doesn’t have much gas in the center, so the star cluster at the core is well resolved.
M74 is just over 13 billion years old. It’s a spiral galaxy like our own Milky Way (which is a touch older). What we learn about star formation in M74 could very well apply to our immediate galactic environment.
Webb’s first images— of nebulae, galaxies and spectra from an exoplanet’s atmosphere — showed the telescope’s scientific potential. Now the telescope is aimed at a whole range of scientific targets of specific interest in different scientific collaborations. There is even a Twitter bot that keeps you up to date with what Webb observes at any time.
Recentlyit was the CEERS collaborations get to imaging targets with Webb, who can observe more distant and fainter targets with better resolution than other space telescopes.
The image of M74 was created as part of the work of the PHANGS collaborationexploring 19 nearby star-forming galaxies to better understand how these hot gas spheres form in our nearby universe.
Watching the galaxy in different wavelengths of light highlights several features of its structure. In images taken by Hubble in optical light, the galactic center is too bright to see much detail, but in Webb’s infrared view, you can distinguish individual pinpricks of light.
The Hubble image also shows a few pink spots across the galaxy; according to an ESA releasethose are clouds of hydrogen gas that indicate where stars have recently formed. The merger of Hubble and Webb data creates a composite image that highlights the galaxy’s nuclear center while preserving the features of its spiral arms, namely the brownish-red dust-intact.
The wavelengths provoke distinctiont feelings too. The optical image makes the galaxy appear more ethereal, while the infrared image makes it look like a terrible space vortex.
It will still be something time before the data can be searched by the scientific teams, who will then sign conclusions ahow stars form in these nearby spiral galaxies; for now we can just bask in the aesthetics of the cosmos.
More: New Webb telescope images of Jupiter reveal the planet’s glittering auroras