It seems that every few weeks, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) shoot back a gorgeous image from the James Webb Space Telescope that’s simultaneously a fascinating look at our knowledge of the universe and its evolution. Last It is from barred spiral galaxy NGC 5068, and is called the “barred” galaxy because of the bright central bar that you can see in the upper left of the image above. It’s a composite image made up of infrared snapshots taken from the telescope’s MIRI (mid-infrared instrument) and NIRCam (near-infrared camera) sensors.
What those sensors captured is a galaxy in the constellation Virgo about 20 million light-years from Earth, and because JWST can see through the dust and gas that surrounds stars as they are born, the instrument is particularly suited to producing images that show the process of star formation.
Looking at the two individual images that make up the composite reveals different layers of the galaxy. like gizmodo notesAnd The image produced by the MIRI sensor provides a view of the galaxy’s structure and glowing gas bubbles representing newly formed stars.
The second image, from NIRCam, focuses on the huge cluster of stars in the foreground. Meanwhile, the composite shows both the huge number of stars in the region as well as the most prominent stars that have just been “born”.
There is not one specific hack in this photo; Instead, NASA notes, this is part of a broader effort to collect as many images of star formation as possible from nearby galaxies. (No, 20 million light-years doesn’t look quite close to me, but that’s how things work in space.) NASA pointed to a few other images as other “gems” from its collection of star-borns, including this impressive “galaxy phantom.” that was shown last summer. As for what does the agency hope to learn? Simply put, star formation “underpins many areas in astronomy, from the physics of weak interstellar plasmas to the evolution of entire galaxies.” NASA goes on to say that it hopes the data being collected on galaxies like NGC 5068 will help “launch” major scientific developments, though what may remain a mystery.
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