The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a beautiful new image created with data from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).
In the wake of JWST’s debut collection in July, images from the $1 billion space telescope have been few and far between, though we have seen Jupiter in the infrared, the more distant star thanks to a ripple in space- time and a “ring galaxy”. in 4K.
The main image released (above) is a combination of separate JWST and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images of the “Ghost Galaxy,” a distant spiral galaxy 32 million light-years from the solar system in the constellation Pisces.
The red colors mark dust passing through the arms of the galaxy, while the lighter oranges are areas of hotter dust, according to the caption on the download page. Young stars are blue, old stars are cyan and green, while star-forming bubbles are pink.
The JWST image of M74 was also released as a standalone (below), a clearer version of some earlier images of the same object. It is available to download for the first time, in HD quality.
The image (above) shows delicate filaments of gas and dust in the spiral arms at the heart of M74, which is known as a “grand design spiral” for its perfect structure. Since there is no dust in the way, it is also possible to see the star cluster in the center of the galaxy.
Expect to see many equally impressive combinations of JWST and HST images in the next couple of decades.
JWST sees in the infrared part of the spectrum, while HST sees primarily in the ultraviolet and visible wavelengths. They are the perfect complement and proof, if more is needed, that JWST shouldn’t be called “the new Hubble.”
Here are the three images, with HST on the left, the mash-up in the middle, and JWST on the right:
JWST’s observations of M74, the first galaxy it studied after “first light” in July 2022, were part of the international Physics at High Angular Resolution in Nearby Galaxies (PHANGS) survey now used by Webb to study stars, the star clusters and dust found within 19 nearby galaxies. All 19 have already been observed and photographed by HST.
The goal is to reveal early star formation when gas collapses to form stars and heats surrounding dust. JWST’s infrared observations are expected to add new insights into the location of star-forming regions in galaxies. They should also help astronomers calculate the masses and ages of star clusters.
The images come from JWST’s MIRI instrument, which was contributed by ESA and NASA. MIRI, which stands for Mid-Infrared Instrument, is a camera and spectrograph that sees light in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Webb is the most ambitious and complex scientific space telescope ever built, with a massive 6.5-meter primary mirror that will be able to detect the faint light from distant stars and galaxies. It is designed to detect infrared light emitted by distant stars, planets, and clouds of gas and dust.
His initial 10-year Webb mission will study the solar system, obtain direct images of exoplanets, photograph the first galaxies, and explore the mysteries of the origins of the Universe.