A few days after the first official release of the first preview images, scientists using the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have released some stunning new images of two spiral galaxies.
Posted by Jodi Schmidt on Flickr while working on the PHANGS survey, the stunning image above shows the amazing “ghost galaxy” (also called M74 and NGC 628), while another (scroll down) shows another spiral galaxy called NGC 7496.
The stunning new images are a testament to Webb’s skill at infrared vision and thus seeing through the gas and dust that obscures much of what happens in some of the night sky’s most captivating objects.
Scroll down for all the new images — and how they compare to those taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, which only sees in visible and near-infrared light.
The first new Webb views to emerge was the “Phantom Galaxy,” which was first seen glimpsed on Twitter:
Web images of “Phantom Galaxy”
Also called M74 and NGC 628, the “ghost galaxy” is about 32 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces. It’s really dim in a small telescope, but by Webb…it’s unbelievable!
A nearly symmetrical spiral galaxy, the dust lanes and arms are made to look like a tunnel through 3D web views.
The image from Twitter above shows a purple tint from emission of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules – a hydrocarbon – that appears bright through blue and red Web filters.
The glowing, colorful dust in NGC628/M74 also appears in this cool image from Schmidt:
The image shows a lot of glowing dust in the center. Now compare it to an image of the same thing that Hubble captured:
What is PHANGS?
The photographs are early portions of one of the early “Webb Treasury” studies. The High Angle Resolution Long-Term Physics Survey of Nearby Galaxies (PHANGS) has built a data set looking at bonds between stars and cold molecular gas in spiral galaxies, most recently using Hubble, as well as the ALMA Radio Observatory and the Very Large Radio Telescope, both in Chile.
The international research team is currently using Webb to survey stars, star clusters, and dust within 19 nearby galaxies.
The goal is to detect early star formation when gas collapses to form stars and heats up surrounding dust.
NGC 7496 . Web Images
Another image published by Schmidt in the PHANGS Survey – and in fact the first Web spiral galaxy seen during its scientific phase – is NGC 7496.
A beautiful spiral galaxy 24 million light-years away in the constellation Grus, it’s full of star clusters and dust lanes.
Here’s what Hubble looks like:
Now here (below) the two images from Hubble and the Web combined – amazing!
“Glowing filaments and swarms of dust, which are usually dark in visible light images, are bright and glowing with infrared light from JWST,” Schmidt said on Flickr.
Stay tuned for more of the latest images from the Webb Telescope as it heads toward science.
I wish you a clear sky and wide eyes.
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