Just days after the first formal release of the first show-off images, scientists using the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have released some amazing new images of two spiral galaxies.
Posted on Flickr by Judy Schmidt who works with the PHANGS Survey, shows the amazing image above the spectacular “Phantom Galaxy” (also called M74 and NGC 628), with others (scroll down) showing another spiral galaxy called NGC 7496.
The incredible new images testify to Webb’s ability to see in infrared and thus see through the gas and dust that hides much of what is going on in some of the most captivating objects in the night sky.
Scroll down for all the new images – and how they compare to those taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, which only sees in visible and near-infrared light.
The first of Webb’s latest views to emerge was “Phantom Galaxy”, a glimpse of this was first seen on Twitter:
Web photos of “Phantom Galaxy”
Also called M74 and NGC 628, “Phantom Galaxy” is about 32 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces. It’s really weak in a small telescope, but through Webb it’s … amazing!
An almost symmetrical spiral galaxy, its dust orbits and arms are designed to look like a tunnel of Webb 3D-like views.
The photo from Twitter above shows a purple tint caused by emissions from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules – a hydrocarbon – that look bright through Webb’s blue and red filters.
Colorful glowing dust in NGC628 / M74 is also visible in this fantastic image from Schmidt:
The picture shows a lot of dust glowing in the middle. Compare it now with a picture of the same object taken by Hubble:
What is PHANGS?
The pictures are early parts of one of the early “Webb Treasury” studies. The long-running study Physics at High Angular Resolution in Nearby Galaxies (PHANGS) has built a dataset that examines the links between stars and cold molecular gas in spiral galaxies, most recently using Hubble, but also the ALMA Radio Observatory and the Very Large Telescope, both in Chile.
The international research team is currently using Webb to map the stars, star clusters and dust that lie within 19 nearby galaxies.
The goal is to detect early star formation when gas collapses to form stars and heats the dust around.
Web images of NGC 7496
Another image published by Schmidt on the PHANGS Survey – and in fact the first spiral galaxy Webb looked at during the science phase – is of NGC 7496.
A beautiful spiral galaxy about 24 million light-years away in the constellation Gravel, it is filled with star clusters and dust orbits.
This is what it looks like for Hubble:
Here (below) the two photos from Hubble and Webb are combined – amazing!
“The glowing wires and flocks of dust that would normally be dark in visible slides are instead bright and glowing with JWST infrared light,” Schmidt said on Flickr.
Stay tuned for more of the latest images from the Webb Telescope as it goes into gear for science.
Wish you clear skies and big eyes.