A newly released image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope shows a crowded field of galaxies and stars, with a distant spiral galaxy standing out in stunning detail.
big galaxy The one at the bottom of the image, LEDA 2046648, is very visible in a file James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or Webb) showing its single screw arms. This level of detail is even more impressive given that the galaxy in question, located in the constellation Hercules, is over a billion light-years away. a land and JWST.
This image also shows a collection of other galaxies and stars, all marked by the six-pointed diffraction spikes that are a signature of JWST observations. The image was taken by JWST’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) while the telescope was observing white dwarf WD1657+343, a well-studied object that JWST has been monitoring for its Near Infrared Imager Calibration and Slit Spectrophotometer (NIRISS).
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(The photo, which was released on Tuesday (January 31st), is supposed to come before January 15th, when Neris encountered a malfunction that took the instrument out of commission. NIRISS resumed normal operations on Monday (30 January), NASA officials said.)
Not only are the other galaxies in the image smaller than LEDA 2046648, but some are also farther away, providing a deeper view of the light. beingDate. One of the main goals of JWST is to monitor distant galaxies, some of which lie much further away than LEDA 2046648, in order to look back in time to the universe when it was in its infancy.
This historical insight is possible because light takes a finite time to travel to Earth from distant galaxies, so looking at these galaxies is like seeing them at the time the light left, sometimes as early as the galaxies’ 13.8 billion year history. Universe about 300 million years later the great explosion.
However, the light from these galaxies does not remain constant over its multi-billion-year journey to JWST’s 21-foot (6.5-meter) wide gold-plated primary mirror.
The expansion of the universe is stretching the wavelengths of this light, reducing its energy from the visible spectrum to infrared light. This process is known as “redshiftIt moves light toward the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum.
This phenomenon makes JWST’s infrared detection capabilities ideal for studying the red light emitted by ancient galaxies, and thus for determining details of their formation, evolution, and composition.
Astronomers can then compare the structure of these ancient, distant galaxies to those we see near our galactic home, Milky Wayexisting in a more contemporary era of the universe.
The comparison could help reveal how galaxies grew to form the structure we see in the universe today. In addition, light from distant galaxies helps reveal their chemical composition, showing astronomers how and when heavy elements were formed and how they became more abundant in later galaxies thanks to fertilization from supernovae.