James Webb Space Telescope Continues To Dazzle (Pics)

NASA's new James Webb Space Telescope, which has already transmitted the clearest pictures of the furthest galaxies man has seen, has now delivered the most vibrant images of the Cartwheel Galaxy, located 500 million light years away.


The infrared capturing capabilities of the James Webb details the hurricane appearance, with the smaller inside galaxy, a perfectly formed center and the outer bands that stretch beyond the center. These rings expand outward from the center of the collision like shockwaves. The Cartwheel Galaxy is bordered by a round outer edge that has the appearance of tubing that runs around the exterior border of the galaxy.

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Images credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team.

Beside the large circular Cartwheel galaxy are two smaller galaxies. One, infrared and the other white. All of these are located in the Sculptor constellation, according to NASA. The James Webb has allowed astronomers to see beyond the known edges of space into deep space and creates the opportunity to grid map the galaxies.

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The brilliant red hues of the Cartwheel and the smaller surrounding galaxy are caused by glowing, hydrocarbon rich dust. NASA describes the Cartwheel's center, as the chaos of the galaxy's creation and how it has changed over billions of years.

Images credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team.

"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 collision most notably affected the galaxy's shape and structure," NASA reported.

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However, despite the impact, much of the character of the large, spiral galaxy that existed before the collision remains, including its rotating arms. This leads to the "spokes" that inspired the name of the Cartwheel Galaxy, which are the bright red streaks seen between the inner and outer rings.

Images credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team.

Webb's observations underscore that the Cartwheel is in a very transitory stage. The galaxy, which was presumably a normal spiral galaxy like the Milky Way before its collision, will continue to transform. While Webb gives us a snapshot of the current state of the Cartwheel, it also provides insight into what happened to this galaxy in the past and how it will evolve in the future.

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The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

Images credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team.

Images credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team.

Content, in part, from NASA.

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