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A dazzling spiral galaxy 29 million light-years from Earth appears in “unprecedented detail” in a new image released by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
this “bones” of the galaxytypically blocked from view by dust, it is in full screen.
The galaxy, named IC 5332, spans about 66,000 light-years, making it about one-third the size of our home galaxy, the Milky Way.
IC 5332 is “notable for being almost perfectly face-to-face with the Earth, allowing us to admire the symmetrical scanning of its spiral arms”. Press release from the European Space Agency
To capture the image, the Webb telescope used the Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI, one of the observatory’s four powerful instruments to probe the cosmos, according to the publication.
MIRI is the only Webb instrument sensitive to light in the mid-infrared wavelengths, a type of wavelength that can only be observed with telescopes. outside Earth’s atmosphere. (Infrared is the term scientists use to refer to light with longer wavelengths than humans can detect with the naked eye.)
The Hubble Space Telescope has previously observed the galaxy in ultraviolet and visible light using the Wide Field Camera 3.
According to the publication, “The Hubble image shows dark regions that seem to separate the spiral arms, while the Webb image shows a continuous confusion of structures that reflect the shape of the spiral arms”. The images reveal different stars depending on the detectable wavelengths of each telescope.
The difference in side-by-side comparisons is due to the dusty regions of the galaxy. Ultraviolet and visible light can be scattered by interstellar dust, so dust-heavy regions appear darker in Hubble’s view.
Webb’s ability to detect infrared light can pass through interstellar dust. Together, these two images of the same galaxy reveal more about its composition and structure.
To work, all of Webb’s instruments must be kept extremely cold, because even slightly hot objects emits its own infrared light and distort an image. The MIRI device is kept coldest at minus 447 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 266 degrees Celsius) – just 7 degrees Celsius warmer than absolute zero. (Absolute zero is the lowest possible temperature on the thermodynamic scale).
Meanwhile, the Webb team is evaluating an issue with one of MIRI’s four observation modes.
“On August 24, a mechanism supporting one of these modes, known as medium-resolution spectroscopy (MRS), exhibited what appears to be increased friction during setup for a scientific observation. This mechanism allows scientists to observe using the MRS mode for short, medium, and more It is a grating wheel that allows them to choose between long wavelengths. Webb blog managed by NASA.
Observations in this mode were paused by the Webb team as they identified a path forward. Otherwise, Webb, his instruments, and MIRI’s other three observation modes are fine.
Webb is operated by NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency. $10 billion space observatory, launched last Decemberit has enough fuel to take great pictures for about 20 years.
Compared to other telescopes, the space observatory’s massive mirror can see faint, distant galaxies and has the potential to improve our understanding of the origin of the universe.
Some Webb’s first images released in July, They highlighted the observatory’s abilities to reveal never-before-seen aspects of the cosmos, such as dust-covered star birth.