NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope unveils first series of scientific images

(ORDO NEWS) — Today, July 12, a NASA team released live images and/or data of four space targets taken by the James Webb Space Telescope . Now the most powerful and expensive space telescope in the history of mankind has officially begun scientific work.

The South Rim Nebula

The James Webb Space Telescope has revealed previously unknown details of the planetary nebula NGC 3132 (unofficially “South Rim”), which lies about 2,500 light-years from Earth.

Recall that planetary nebulae are shells of ionized gas around a central dying star, a white dwarf, which in the relatively recent past went supernova (exploded), having lost its “multilayer structure”.

In the shells thrown off by the star, dust is formed, which is characterized by its long life, which allows it to travel through interstellar space for billions of years. Usually such dust becomes part of new stars or planets, but gas dissipates in the surrounding space after thousands of years.

James Webb’s powerful infrared instruments not only showed the nebula’s second star shrouded in dust, but also the striking structures created by both luminaries. These details will help to understand how planetary nebulae evolve and influence their environment.

  • The left image, taken with a near-infrared camera (NIRCam), clearly shows stars and complex gas and dust structures
  • In the right mid-infrared (MIRI) image, a second star (reddish in color) surrounded by dust is easily identified

The brighter star is at a relatively early stage of evolution. She, working in duo with an “older” companion, gives the nebula its asymmetric shape.

You can download a high-resolution image on the official SITE.

Stephen’s Quintet

Stephen’s Quintet is a group of five galaxies that “James Webb” revealed in a new light. This is the largest image taken by the telescope to date; it covers an area of ​​the sky about 20% of the moon’s diameter.

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About 1,000 individual shots were used to create the image, which were then “glued together” into a picture containing more than 150 million pixels.

In fact, Stefan’s Quintet should be called the “Stefan’s Quartet” because only four galaxies are relatively close apart, and the fifth, left-most galaxy, NGC 7320, is in the foreground (39 million light-years away). from the earth). Four interacting galaxies are located at a distance of 210-340 million light-years from us.

Quite spectacularly, James Webb captured the giant shock waves that appeared as a result of the cataclysmic collision of the galaxy NGC 7318B with the cluster. It is a great fortune to observe how interacting galaxies excite gas in each other, triggering active star formation.

NGC 7319, the topmost galaxy in Stephan’s Quintet, has a very active core, a supermassive black hole with a mass about 24 million times that of the Sun. By comparison, the mass of Sagittarius A* , the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, is about 4.3 million times that of the Sun.

Information obtained by the space telescope will allow a better understanding of the influence of galactic interactions on the evolution of galaxies in the early universe.

It is worth noting that the numerous multi-colored dots in the background are galaxies, not stars.

You can download a high-resolution image on the official SITE .

NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula

This mesmerizing landscape is the edge of the young star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula, about 7,600 light-years from Earth. The NIRCam image shows previously inaccessible star-forming regions.

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The specific shape of the gas and dust structures is provided by ultraviolet radiation and stellar wind from extremely massive and very hot young stars located in the center of the “bubble” above the region shown in this image. The high-energy radiation from these stars is slowly destroying the nebula.

The “steam” that appears to be rising from the tops of the brown-orange “mountains” is actually ionized gas and dust that has been heated to enormous temperatures and is now “squeezed” out of the nebula by intense ultraviolet radiation.

The data obtained by “James Webb” will shed light on the process of star formation.

You can download a high-resolution image on the official SITE.

WASP-96b

A huge mirror and incredibly precise James Webb instruments have made the most detailed measurements to date of starlight passing through the atmosphere of gas giant WASP-96b, about 1,150 light-years from Earth.

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Spectral analysis showed the presence of water, haze and clouds, which could not be detected using other telescopes sent to study this distant “hellish” world:

  • The radius of WASP-96b is 1.2 times that of Jupiter
  • The mass of WASP-96b is 52% less than that of Jupiter
  • The atmosphere of WASP-96b is heated to 725 degrees Celsius
  • WASP-96b orbits very close to its star (less than 1/20th of the distance between Earth and the Sun), making a complete revolution in less than 84 hours

The observational results make it clear that James Webb will soon play a key role in the study of potentially habitable worlds.

Unnamed galaxy

Thanks to the Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) installed on the James Webb, we know what is made of the unnamed galaxy that was in the image released this morning . This galaxy, 13.1 billion light-years from Earth, is made up primarily of hydrogen, oxygen, and neon.

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In the young Universe, there were very few heavy elements, so such a “light” composition is the absolute norm. However, this order was later broken by nucleosynthesis.

There is no doubt that “James Webb” will become the engine of the astronomical revolution.

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