Amazing! Explore 19 Spiral Galaxies Through the Remarkable New Images from Webb Telescope

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured stunning new images of 19 spiral galaxies, offering the highest-resolution views of these celestial structures to date. The images, which were captured in both near-infrared and mid-infrared light, were released on January 29, 2024. They reveal the galaxies’ well-defined arms, stars, gas and dust in unprecedented detail.

The images are part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) program, involving more than 150 astronomers worldwide. The program also utilizes data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Telescope’s Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile.

According to Janice Lee, a project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, the new images are extraordinary and provide valuable insight into the star formation cycle within these galaxies. Thomas Williams from the University of Oxford also expressed amazement at the amount of detail in these images.

The images not only depict millions of stars and vast clouds of dust and gas, but also reveal large spherical “shells” in the dust and gas of the galaxies, which are believed to have been created by exploding stars. These structures follow a certain pattern in parts of the galaxies and their spacing provides valuable information about the distribution of gas and dust in a galaxy.

Astronomers believe that most galaxies have supermassive black holes in their centers, a theory that the new Webb images seem to confirm with pink and red diffraction spikes in the galaxy cores. These spikes are considered to be indicative of an active supermassive black hole or extremely bright star clusters in the galaxy’s center.

The PHANGS program also released the largest catalog to date of star clusters, containing about 100,000 known star clusters. The data amassed by the PHANGS program is so vast that its team is looking forward to supporting the scientific community in analyzing these images.

The new images from the James Webb Space Telescope represent a significant advancement in our understanding of galaxies and star formation, providing an unprecedented level of detail and contributing to a more comprehensive view of star life cycles.

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