James Webb Space Telescope snaps dazzling galactic dance

James Webb Space Telescope snaps dazzling galactic dance
Image via Creative Commons.
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The James Webb Space Telescope has earned the wonderment of the world since its first images were shared with the public in July. On Tuesday, the $10 billion instrument revealed its latest mesmerizing find – a cluster of galaxies tangled in a gravitational dance in the distant cosmos.

Webb "peered into the chaos of the Cartwheel Galaxy, revealing new details about star formation and the galaxy’s central black hole. Webb’s powerful infrared gaze produced this detailed image of the Cartwheel and two smaller companion galaxies against a backdrop of many other galaxies. This image provides a new view of how the Cartwheel Galaxy has changed over billions of years," the European Space Agency announced.

"The Cartwheel Galaxy, located about 500 million light-years away in the Sculptor constellation, is a rare sight. Its appearance, much like that of the wheel of a wagon, 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. Collisions of galactic proportions cause a cascade of different, smaller events between the galaxies involved; the Cartwheel is no exception," the ESA explained.

NASA/ESA/CSA

READ MORE: Look up: The James Webb Space Telescope uncloaks a dazzling and dynamic cosmos

What makes Webb's find special is the photograph's unprecedented clarity.

"The Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), Webb’s primary imager, looks in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns, seeing crucial wavelengths of light that can reveal even more stars than observed in visible light. This is because young stars, many of which are forming in the outer ring, are less obscured by the presence of dust when observed in infrared light. In this image, NIRCam data are colored blue, orange, and yellow. The galaxy displays many individual blue dots, which are individual stars or pockets of star formation," the ESA said. "NIRCam also reveals the difference between the smooth distribution or shape of the older star populations and dense dust in the core compared to the clumpy shapes associated with the younger star populations outside of it."

NASA/ESA/CSA

READ MORE: President Joe Biden introduces the James Webb Space Telescope's first glimpse into the early Universe

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