JWST by NASA Discloses Hidden Formations in Spiral Galaxies

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has made groundbreaking observations of 19 spiral galaxies, revealing previously unseen structures. This information has been released under the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby Galaxies (PHANGS) initiative, a global effort involving over 150 astronomers.

The JWST, equipped with advanced infrared capabilities, has succeeded in penetrating cosmic dust, thus unveiling structures within spiral galaxies that were previously hidden. Unlike earlier telescopes such as Hubble, JWST’s images reveal an impressive sight of interstellar gas and dust, illustrated as glowing red and orange wisps. These brightly colored regions indicate areas where new stars are being born, offering valuable insights into the process of star formation.

The newly captured images have also revealed large spherical shells within the gas and dust, believed to be remnants of past supernova explosions. This discovery offers a new perspective on the behavior and structure of galaxies, allowing scientists to delve deeper into the complexities of galaxy formation. These images were captured using Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera and Mid-Infrared Instrument, highlighting the pioneering contributions of U of A Regents Professors George and Marcia Rieke in their development.

The images, which depict galaxies located between 50 to 65 million light-years away, have been made accessible to both the public and the astronomy community via the webbtelescope.org/images website. This release is not merely a spectacle for the curious eyes, but also an invitation for the global scientific community to embark on a journey of discovery, to decipher the mysteries of galactic structure and behavior.

The JWST, a project of NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), is the largest and most powerful space telescope ever built. It is designed to help scientists understand the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets, and to study the atmospheres of exoplanets for potential signs of life. The PHANGS initiative is one of the many projects utilizing the JWST’s capabilities to explore the cosmos and answer fundamental questions about the Universe.

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