The James Webb Space Telescope has provided a vivid view of the stars in a galaxy located 17 million light-years from Earth. NGC 5068 was observed by the powerful space observatory to better understand how a star forms and evolves within a galaxy like our own Milky Way. The James Webb Telescope viewed the galaxy through its infrared light, which cannot be seen by the naked eye, allowing us an unprecedented look into deep interstellar space, piercing through cosmic gas clouds.
The European Space Agency, collaborating on the project with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, states that the Webb telescope’s ability to see through gas and dust makes it the perfect scientific tool to study star formation processes.
Invisible to visible light telescopes like the Hubble, solar systems shrouded in cosmic dust are visible when NCG 5068 is viewed in infrared light using the James Webb Telescope.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captures a jaw-dropping, detailed image of a galaxy
The image, captured below by the James Webb Telescope, showcases “gargantuan clouds of dust,” with the galaxy’s radiant white bar representing the galaxy’s core. Comparable to the Milky Way, NGC 5068’s structure is bar-like, composed of densely packed stars. Many thousands of bright dots populate the image which are stars, with most likely hosting some wild, exotic exoplanets that we cannot see. The right of the image shows a curved spiral arm of the galaxy with the galaxy’s skeletal structure made of colossal dust particles and filaments, according to the European Space Agency.
A highly-detailed view into the center the spiral galaxy NGC 5068.
Credit: ESA / NASA / CSA / J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team
The powerful abilities of the Webb telescope
The James Webb Telescope was designed to peer into deep space and offer insights about the undetermined universe. The telescope provides a view of spectacular planets in our solar system and faraway galaxies.
Here’s how the telescope is transforming outer space research:
Giant mirror: The mirror of the Webb telescope, which captures light, is more than 21 feet across, which is over two and a half times larger than Hubble’s mirror. This allows Webb to observe more light and see more distant, ancient objects. Webb has peered at stars and galaxies formed over 13 billion years ago, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, allowing us the chance to see the very first stars and galaxies that ever formed.
Infrared view: Unlike its predecessor, the Hubble, the James Webb Telescope primarily observes light in the infrared spectrum, which allows a view of far more of the universe than the visible spectrum. Infrared light has longer wavelengths which allow it to more efficiently pass through cosmic clouds, reducing the amount of scattered visible light. The infrared view lifts the veil into deep interstellar space areas that the Hubble Telescope otherwise would not be able to see.
Studying distant planets: James Webb Telescope carries specialized equipment called spectrometers to decipher the atmosphere of distant exoplanets, revolutionizing study and understanding of these far-off worlds. These instruments can study the composition of molecules such as water, carbon dioxide, and methane in the atmosphere of distant exoplanets. The observatory has already discovered intriguing chemical reactions on a planet located 700 light-years away and is studying the rocky, Earth-sized planets of the TRAPPIST solar system.
Stay tuned for more fantastic discoveries from the James Webb Telescope, which promises to transform our understanding of the universe, from the earliest days of its existence to what lies beyond the Milky Way.