New image from the James Webb Telescope |
Detecting the galaxy behind thick stardust
The latest infrared cameras on board the new James Webb Telescope make it possible: for the first time, NASA and the European Space Agency have shown an extremely sharp image of the famous Cartwell Galaxy in space.
It was never sharp due to star dust around the galaxy.
The exciting image allows a glimpse into the chaos of this galaxy and, according to NASA, reveals new details about the formation of stars and the central black hole in the center of the galaxy.
The Cartwheel Galaxy is located about 500 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Sculptor. Its wagon wheel-like appearance is caused by a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy not visible in this image.
Galaxy-wide collisions cause a series of different small events between the respective galaxies. The impact mainly affected the shape and structure.
The cartwheel galaxy has two rings – a bright inner ring and a colorful outer ring. These two rings spread outward from the center of the collision, like ripples in a puddle after a boulder was thrown into it, according to NASA. Because of these distinctive features, astronomers call it a “ringed galaxy.”
The bright core contains a huge amount of hot dust, with the brightest regions home to young, giant star clusters. Stars form and die in the outer ring, which is expanding about 440 million years ago.
Other telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, have also previously studied the cartwheel. But a huge amount of dust obscured the view. The James Webb Telescope is revealing new insights into the nature of the cartwheel through its ability to detect infrared light. Astronomers around the world are excited.
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