Stop what you’re doing. The latest official image from the James Webb Space Telescope has been released, and it’s a stunning circus of fireworks that illuminate the darkness of space.
The subject is the Cartwheel Galaxy, a well-known object about 500 million light-years away, and a major oddity: unlike most other galaxies, which are relatively cohesive, it consists of many distinct, distinct structures whose appearance gave the unusual object. Its name.
Like a cartwheel or Ferris wheel, the Milky Way has a distinct outer ring that bursts with light, a much weaker region inside it, and a brighter ‘hub’ – a center that obscures, features The unobstructed elliptical is in between the Milky Way and the One. Structured spiral.
Previous analyzes have found that this peculiar, extremely complex structure is probably the result of a violent interaction with another, smaller galaxy: a high-speed collision that causes literal waves of galaxy material to propagate outward from the point of collision.
That’s the source, scientists believe, that you can see around the galactic center as well as the larger ring and the smaller, less well-defined ring.
When galaxies interact, the consequences are, well, cosmic.
Not only do the galaxies in question separate in interesting ways, but the resulting shocks in interstellar gas can also trigger rapid waves of star formation as the gas compresses, causing massive clumps to form as baby stars under their own gravity. collapse to form seeds.
This activity, most visible in the infrared wavelengths in which Webb observes the universe, is occurring in massive amounts in the Cartwheel Galaxy.
The outer ring is bursting with star formation and supernova activity as the ring expands into the gas of the intergalactic medium.
The galaxy’s inner center has also been busy, filled with clusters of young, hot, massive stars.
But the Cartwheel Galaxy is very dusty, which is difficult to penetrate at certain wavelengths, namely optical, in which Hubble excels.
There are no words… pic.twitter.com/FVj78o5ONq
— kobi (@astro_kobi) 2 August 2022
Webb’s infrared and near-infrared capabilities and amazing resolution have enabled it to bite through a lot of the dust, revealing never-before-seen details in the Cartwheel Galaxy.
In the image above, the primary near-infrared instrument, NIRCAM, has revealed pockets of star formation, which are colored blue, as well as orange and yellow regions of older stars and dust.
The red areas in the image are from an instrument called MIRI, which images the mid-infrared. They show galactic dust that forms mainly cartwheels – silicate dust and ‘spokes’ of hydrocarbons.
Future analysis of this data is expected to reveal more about this astonishing galaxy and its crazy evolution.
You can see three other galaxies in these images; Together, the four galaxies are known as the Cartwheel Group. None of these galaxies is the galaxy with which the cartwheel collided some 440 million years ago – although they show evidence of intense interactions of their own.
The irregular spiral in the top left appears to have been interrupted at some point; It is also doing fireworks display. The spiral just below it nonetheless has a faint tidal tail—a long stream of material pulled in by gravitational interaction with a massive object.
In fact, it is much less common for the Milky Way. No There has been some controversy in its distant past. Just ask our own galaxy.
You can download wallpaper-sized versions of the composite image from the ESA Web website.