James Webb Space Telescope brings unexpected data about the famous Wheel Galaxy

Tram Ho

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope peered into the distant Wheel Galaxy, uncovering new insights into the massive entity’s star formation and central black hole. Using lenses that see infrared light, scientists get detailed images of the Wheel and two smaller galaxies, against a sky that includes countless others.

This unprecedented image shows how the Wheel Galaxy has changed over many billions of years.

Located 500 million light-years away in the constellation Jade, the Wheel Galaxy is the result of a collision that took place many billions of years ago, between a vortex-shaped galaxy and a smaller galaxy. Interaction between the two galaxies has caused the Wheel to have two bright rings: a bright ring in the middle and a colorful ring around it.

Kính viễn vọng Khong gian James Webb đem lại những dữ liệu bất ngờ về Thiên hà Bánh xe trứ danh - Ảnh 1.
Wheel galaxy with two bright rings, against a background of many other galaxies.

Two rings of light radiated out into space the way ripples spread to the surface of a lake, appearing after the water was stirred by a pebble thrown from the shore. This appearance led astronomers to classify the Wheel Galaxy as a “ring galaxy,” a rare and uncommon form of galaxy like the Milky Way-like vortex galaxy.

The bright core in the image contains a large amount of hot dust, and the brightest areas are where young star clusters form. The outermost ring radiates to a distance of approximately 440 million light-years, filled with stellar regions and supernova explosions. The spreading ring further stimulates the star-forming gas clusters.

Many other telescopes (including Hubble) have taken pictures of the Wheel Galaxy, but a mysterious veil – a dense layer of space dust – still obscures the distant galaxy. But with the Webb’s ability to observe infrared light, we have for the first time glimpsed the nature of the Wheel Galaxy.

In the image below, data from the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) is colored in blue, orange, and yellow. Single blue dots are either stars, or new star-producing regions. However, it took the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) Webb telescope to obtain data on dust present in the Wheel Galaxy. The red areas in the image are space rich in hydrocarbons and silicate dust, which radiate outwards and essentially form the skeleton of the Wheel Galaxy.

Kính viễn vọng Khong gian James Webb đem lại những dữ liệu bất ngờ về Thiên hà Bánh xe trứ danh - Ảnh 2.
The Wheel Galaxy under the eyes of the MIRI instrument.

Rare images show that the Galaxy is in transition, and it will change shape in the future. While the Webb Glasses capture the Wheel Galaxy at one point in time, we will still gain knowledge about the past, present, and how the Galaxy will grow in the future.

According to NASA

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Source : Genk