Webb Captures Side View of Galaxy Behind the Southern Ring Nebula

Webb Captures Side View of Galaxy Behind the Southern Ring Nebula
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NASA released two images Tuesday. James Webb Space Telescope A capture of the Southern Ring Nebula, a massive cloud of dust and gas 2,000 light-years from Earth.

Webb’s infrared view, which helped the nebula pass through cosmic dust, also revealed something never seen before: a side view of a distant galaxy lurking in the photo’s background.

Webb scientists said Tuesday that this bluish line in this close-up of the image is an edge in the galaxy.

The bluish line in this close-up image of the Southern Ring Nebula is an edge-to-edge galaxy.

Paola Rosa-Aquino/NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI

“This is part of the nebula,” I claimed during the image, NASA astronomer Karl Gordon said. viewing the edge of the galaxy, it looks like a long, bluish thin line in the upper left of the image. From this perspective, astronomers can study how stars are distributed in a galaxy.

Webb scientists have yet to provide additional information about the galaxy bombarding the Southern Ring Nebula. “Wow. Wow. This. This near-infrared image — wow,” said project scientist Alex Lockwood, sharing two new images of the nebula. Tuesday.

southern ring nebula infrared bubbles of colored gas and dust surround two stars

Captured by Webb in mid-infrared light, the Southern Ring Nebula was revealed by the remnants of a dying star.


Often identified as the successor Hubble space telescope, Webb was released on December 25, 2021, after more than two decades of development. Since then, the $10 billion telescope has traveled more than 1 million miles from Earth and is now placed in a gravitationally stable orbit, collecting infrared light. By collecting infrared light that the human eye can’t see, Webb can cut through cosmic dust and see far away up to the first 400 million years after the Big Bang.

NASA to showcase the telescope’s capabilities and to show that the telescope is finally operational. launches the first batch of full color images. The powerful telescope captured two separate images of the Southern Ring Nebula in both mid-infrared and near-infrared light.

The Southern Ring or “Eight Bursts” nebula is a living shell of gas and dust ejected into space by a dying star.

“As the star dies, it starts to swing in its last dying breath. It flickers. And at the end of it, the puff comes out,” JWST project scientist Klaus Pontoppidan at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center told reporters. after posting the images. “So you see what the star was doing just before it created this planetary nebula. I find it fascinating because it’s like geological layers and you can see the history of its last moments.”

side-by-side images of a bubbling nebula with arrows pointing to stars in the center

Hubble’s Southern Ring Nebula (left) image has only one light in the center, while JWST (right) clearly shows two stars.

Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA/NASA); NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

The new image not only shows the dying star in greater detail, but also revealed a second star gravitationally bound to it. previously hidden from view. Examining the once hidden stars in detail will help them understand how they shaped the gas and dust cloud, the astronomers said.

Over the weekend, JWST’s team kicked off the first year of normal science operations. “Today, the Webb mission is open for scientific work,” said Michelle Thaller, deputy director of science communications at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “And the best is yet to come.”

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