The most powerful telescope ever made has returned images of a cosmic wonder that took place some 500 million light-years away. The James Webb Space Telescope, which revealed its first set of images last month, has provided another image from deep space. Telescope observations have revealed details about the star formation and galactic dust of the Cartwheel Galaxy. Located in the Sculptor constellation, the Cartwheel Galaxy is a rare sight because it has two rings. The first, a small ring that is extremely bright and the second, a large ring, that surrounds the first.
The inner ring “contains a lot of hot dust and is home to clusters of young stars, while the outer ring promotes supernovae and star formation. According to NASA, the outer ring is expanding and now has spread for about 440 million years.
This image is the result of the Near-infrared Camera (NIRCam), which is the primary imager and the Mid-infrared Instrument (MIRI). NIRCam helps the James Webb Space Telescope see important wavelengths of light. This allows the telescope to see even more stars than can be seen in visible light.
MIRI studies the fine dust in the galaxy and shows that the Cartwheel galaxy is rich in hydrocarbons and other compounds such as silicate dust, much like dust on Earth.
NASA shared the photo on Twitter and captioned it, “The web uniquely offers not just a snapshot of the current state of the galaxy, but a peek into the past and future.” Take a look:
Time to reinvent the wheel.
Here’s the Cartwheel Galaxy in a whole new light — as a composite image from 2 instruments on the Webb telescope. Webb uniquely offers not just a snapshot of the galaxy’s current state, but also a peek into its past & future: https://t.co/QdXPwAwwac pic.twitter.com/SJD3wTxwRP
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) August 2, 2022
The James Webb telescope shows the Cartwheel Galaxy, with two smaller galaxies in the background. The shape of the galaxy – in which one ring surrounds another – is the result of a violent collision between two galaxies of different sizes. This collision affected the shape and composition of the Cartwheel galaxy. The James Webb Space Telescope clearly highlights that the galaxy is in a transient phase and will continue to change.
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