James Webb captured a jewel-encrusted image of a dwarf galaxy

James Webb captured a jewel-encrusted image of a dwarf galaxy

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The James Webb Space Telescope 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.

The WLM 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 to date. 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 have recorded the WLM galaxy, but Webb used his near-infrared camera, also called NIRCamin order to record 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 commentary published on NASA’s Web page. 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 at the Webb Early Release Science Program.

On Twitter, NASA’s official Webb Telescope account announced that, compared to past images from the space observatory, Webb’s NIRCam 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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