The Cartwheel Galaxy and the Other Universe Mysteries Revealed by James Webb

Never before have we been able to see the universe as the James Webb Telescope is showing it to us now.

Our naked eye would never be able to see what the telescope sees: James Webb travels through light and space, and can see the origins of the universe – something our minds can hardly begin to comprehend.

Working like a time machine, the first images shared by this powerful telescope on July 12 showed us far away galaxies, the death of stars and the atmospheres of planets outside our solar system.

The latest image shared by the James Webb Telescope on August 2 takes another step forward in our understanding of the universe, showing us what happens after two galaxies collide.

Peering through the cosmic dust created by the collision with the infrared cameras, the telescope gave us a picture of how the Cartwheel Galaxy is changing after a collision with another smaller galaxy billions of years ago.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO production team

The mid-infrared light captured by Webb’s MIRI infrared camera reveals fine details of the dusty regions and young stars of the Cartwheel Galaxy. – NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO production team

Scientists believe that the Cartwheel Galaxy, a ring galaxy more than 500 million light-years away from our planet that owes its name to its bright inner ring and colorful outer ring, was once part of a large spiral like the Milky Way, before another galaxy crushed it. .

The entire galaxy’s appearance, which reminded scientists of a cart wheel, is due to that high-speed collision, according to NASA. From the collision center, the galaxy’s two rings have expanded outwards, creating the rare ring shape.

What can James Webb see in the Cartwheel Galaxy

Scientists have never before been able to see clearly into the chaos of the Cartwheel Galaxy and understand it.

The Hubble Space Telescope had already peered into the galaxy, but the amount of dust surrounding the Cartwheel Galaxy prevented the telescope from observing the phenomena taking place in the galaxy.

But now, thanks to the James Webb Telescope’s infrared cameras, scientists are able to peer into the galaxy’s bright center.

To do so, an image is created by combining Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), which are able to see through the dust and reveal wavelengths of light that are impossible to observe under visible light conditions .

The image obtained shows the formation of stars in the wake of the galaxies colliding – a process that is not yet fully understood.


This image taken by the James Webb Telescope shows the edge of a nearby young star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. – NASA

The bright core at the center of the galaxy contains hot dust, NASA says, with the brightest regions home to giant young star clusters.

What you can see in the outer ring, however, is the formation of new stars.

The Cartwheel Galaxy is still undergoing changes and will continue to transform, promising to reveal more secrets about how galaxies evolve over time, even though it may take billions of years.

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