He has been conducting scientific operations for less than a month but NasaJames Webb is once again blown away by his vision of the universe.
The super space telescope now has peered into the chaos of the Cartwheel Galaxy, revealing new details about star formation and the galaxy’s central black hole.
Its powerful infrared gaze produced a detailed image of the cartwheel and two smaller companion galaxies against a backdrop of many other galaxies.
Located about 500 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor, the Cartwheel Galaxy is a rare sight.
Its appearance, much like that of a wagon wheel, is the result of an intense event – a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy not visible in this image.
Other telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, have examined the cartwheel before.
But the dramatic galaxy has been shrouded in mystery – perhaps quite literally, given how much dust obscures the view.
Fireworks: The James Webb Space Telescope once again impresses with its view of the universe. It peered into the chaos of the Cartwheel galaxy (pictured), revealing new details about star formation and the galaxy’s central black hole
This image from Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) shows a cluster of galaxies, including a large distorted ring-shaped galaxy known as the Cartwheel
INSTRUMENTS ON THE JAMES WEBB TELESCOPE
NIR Cam (Near InfraRed Camera) an infrared imager from the edge of visible through near infrared
NIR spec (Near InfraRed Spectrograph) will also perform spectroscopy on the same wavelength range.
SEE (Mid-InfraRed Instrument) will measure the mid-to-long infrared wavelength range of 5 to 27 micrometers.
FGS/NIRISS (Fine Guidance Sensor and Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph), is used to stabilize the line of sight of the observatory during scientific observations.
Webb, with his ability to detect infrared light, now discovers new information about the nature of the wheel.
The Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), Webb’s primary imager, looks into the near-infrared range of 0.6 to 5 microns, seeing crucial wavelengths of light that can reveal even more stars than seen in visible light.
This is because young stars, many of which form in the outer ring, are less obscured by the presence of dust when viewed in infrared light. In this image, the NIRCam data is colored blue, orange, and yellow.
The galaxy displays many individual blue dots, which are individual stars or pockets of star formation.
NIRCam also reveals the difference between the smooth distribution or shape of older star populations and dense dust in the core versus the clumped shapes associated with younger star populations outside.
The image from the $10 billion (£7.4 billion) observatory also offers new insight into how the Cartwheel galaxy has changed over billions of years.
Collisions of galactic proportions cause a cascade of different and smaller events between the galaxies involved; the cartwheel is no exception.
The collision notably affected the shape and structure of the galaxy.
The Cartwheel Galaxy sports two rings – a glowing inner ring and a surrounding colorful ring. These rings extend outward from the center of the collision, like ripples in a pond after a stone has been thrown into it.
Because of these distinctive features, astronomers call it a “ring galaxy,” a less common structure than spiral galaxies like our Milky Way.
The bright core contains a huge amount of hot dust, with the brightest areas hosting gigantic young star clusters.
On the other hand, the outer ring, which has been expanding for about 440 million years, is dominated by star formation and supernovae. As this ring expands, it sinks into the surrounding gas and triggers star formation.
Webb’s infrared abilities allow him to “go back in time” to the Big Bang, which happened 13.8 billion years ago. Light waves travel extremely fast, about 186,000 miles (300,000 km) per second, every second. The further away an object is, the further back in time. This is because of the time it takes light to travel from the object to us
Learning finer details about the dust that inhabits the galaxy, however, requires Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).
MIRI data is colored red in this composite image, revealing regions of the Cartwheel galaxy rich in hydrocarbons and other chemical compounds, as well as silicate dust, like much of the dust on Earth.
These regions form a series of spiral rays that essentially form the backbone of the galaxy.
The $10billion (£7.4billion) observatory (pictured) has provided new insight into how the Cartwheel Galaxy has changed over billions of years
The rays are evident in previous Hubble observations published in 2018, but they become much more prominent in this Webb image.
While Webb gives us insight into the current state of the wheel, he also gives insight into what happened to this galaxy in the past and how it will evolve in the future.
Last month, the dazzling and unprecedented telescope images of a “stellar nursery”, a dying star covered in dust and a “cosmic dance” between a group of galaxies were revealed to the world for the first time. .
It ended months of feverish waiting and anticipation as people around the world were treated to the first batch of a treasure trove of images that will culminate in the first look at the dawn of the universe.
Webb’s infrared abilities mean he can ‘see through time’ just 100-200 million years from the Big Bang, allowing him to snap photos of the very first stars to shine in the universe there. more than 13.5 billion years old.
His first images of nebulae, an exoplanet and galaxy clusters sparked a huge celebration in the scientific world, where what was hailed as a “great day for humanity”.
Researchers will soon begin to learn more about the masses, ages, histories, and compositions of galaxies, as Webb seeks to explore the earliest galaxies in the universe.
James Webb Telescope: NASA’s $10 billion telescope designed to detect light from early stars and galaxies
The James Webb Telescope has been described as a “time machine” that could help unlock the secrets of our universe.
The telescope will be used to look back at the first galaxies born in the early universe more than 13.5 billion years ago, and observe the sources of stars, exoplanets and even moons and planets in our solar system.
The vast telescope, which has already cost more than $7bn (£5bn), is seen as the successor to the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope
The James Webb Telescope and most of its instruments have an operating temperature of around 40 Kelvin – about minus 387 Fahrenheit (minus 233 Celsius).
It is the largest and most powerful orbiting space telescope in the world, capable of observing 100 to 200 million years after the Big Bang.
The orbiting infrared observatory is designed to be about 100 times more powerful than its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA likes to think of James Webb as a successor to Hubble rather than a replacement, as the two will be working in tandem for some time.
The Hubble Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990 via Space Shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It circles the Earth at a speed of approximately 17,000 mph (27,300 km/h) in low Earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 340 miles.