The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has captured a stunning view of the heart of the large ghost galaxy, officially known as M74, which lies 32 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Pisces.
This latest piece of cosmic art from the JWST is a perfect example of how data captured by multiple orbiting telescopes designed to observe different wavelengths of light can be combined to create a more complete and spectacular view of an astronomical object.
The new JWST images were captured using the telescope’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), which is designed to observe light in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Scientists combine data from the Hubble and Webb telescopes to create a stunning view of the ghost galaxy
Normally, our human eyes would be unable to perceive this kind of light. However, astronomers are able to take the raw infrared data collected by telescopes and instruments like MIRI and assign them colors that we can understand.
This is useful because galaxies like M74 are saturated with huge clouds of interstellar dust and gas that prevent telescopes observing the sky in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum from seeing their underlying structure.
Fortunately, infrared telescopes like the JWST are able to look beyond this obscuring layer to observe what lies beneath, in order to provide a more complete view of the universe.
In the case of the ghost galaxy, Webb’s powerful infrared eyes revealed an ethereal view of the filaments of dust and gas that lie within M74’s well-defined spiral arms and a clear central region that hosts a dense cluster of stellar bodies. homes
Meanwhile, previous observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope showed the galaxy in the ultraviolet and visible parts of the light spectrum. The Hubble data highlighted a central population of old red stars and the locations of younger blue stellar bodies that pepper the spiral arms.
Images from the James Webb Space Telescope