Science

A new Webb Telescope image shows a ‘lonely’ dwarf galaxy in striking detail

A new Webb Telescope image shows a ‘lonely’ dwarf galaxy in striking detail

A new Webb Telescope image shows a ‘lonely’ dwarf galaxy in striking detail

A portion of the Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte dwarf galaxy is shown, as imaged by the Spitzer Space Telescope (left) and the James Webb Space Telescope. (Kristen McQuinn via NASA)

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WASHINGTON — The James Webb Space Telescope has captured an extremely detailed image of a nearby dwarf galaxy. The near-infrared view reveals the deepest look yet into the stellar panorama that could offer astronomers an ideal tool for studying aspects of the early universe.

The image shows a multitude of stars within a solitary dwarf galaxy called Wolf-Lundmark-Melottelocated about 3 million light-years from our home galaxy, the Milky Way, and about one-tenth the size.

This dwarf galaxy is intriguing to astronomers because it remains largely isolated and has a similar chemical composition to galaxies in the early universe, according to NASA.

The Webb Telescope, which launched in December 2021, is the most powerful space observatory go out with It is capable of detecting the faint light of incredibly distant galaxies as they shine in infrared light, a wavelength invisible to the human eye.

The Hubble Space Telescope and the now-defunct Spitzer Space Telescope imaged the dwarf galaxy, but Webb used his near-infrared camera to capture it in unprecedented detail.

“We can see countless individual stars of different colors, sizes, temperatures, ages, and stages of evolution; interesting clouds of nebular gas within the galaxy; foreground stars with Webb diffraction spikes; and background galaxies with neat features like tidal tails,” said Kristen McQuinn, an assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, in a comment posted on NASA’s website. The tidal tail is a thin “tail” of stars and interstellar gas that extends beyond the galaxy.

“It’s a really beautiful picture,” added McQuinn, who is one of the lead scientists in the Webb Early Publication Program.

On Twitter, NASA’s official Webb Telescope account announced that, compared to past images from the space observatory, Webb’s near-infrared image “makes the whole place sparkle” — a reference to the song “Bejeweled” on Taylor Swift’s new album. “Midnights”.

Some of the stars shown in this latest Webb image are low-mass stars that formed in the early universe and are capable of surviving for billions of years, McQuinn noted on NASA’s website.

“By determining the properties of these low-mass stars (such as their age), we can gain insight into what happened in the very distant past,” she said.

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