NASA’s James Webb Telescope Captures Colorful Wheel Galaxy: Details
The James Webb Space Telescope looked at time and massive amounts of dust to capture a new image of the Wheel Galaxy, revealing a rotating color wheel in unprecedented clarity, NASA and the European Space Agency said on Tuesday. Located about 500 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Sculptor, the Cartwheel took its shape in a spectacular head-on collision between the two galaxies.
The collision caused the two rings to extend from the galactic center, “like ripples in a pond after a rock is thrown at it”, NASA and ESA said in a joint statement.
A smaller white ring remains closer to the galactic center, while the outer ring, with its colored spokes, has extended into the universe for about 440 million years, the statement added.
As the outer ring expands, it turns into gas, causing the formation of new stars.
The Hubble telescope previously captured images of a rare ring galaxy, thought to be a spiral galaxy like our own Galaxy before it was attacked by a smaller invading galaxy.
But the Webb telescope, which was launched in December 2021 and revealed its first images to the global audience last month, has far more impact.
Webb’s ability to detect infrared light allows it to see through the “enormous amount of hot dust” that obscures the view of the Cartwheel Galaxy, NASA and ESA say.
This, they say, reveals new details about star formation in the galaxy, as well as the activity of the supermassive black hole at its center.
It can also detect areas rich in hydrocarbons and other chemicals, as well as dust similar to that on Earth.
Behind the Cartwheel, two smaller galaxies shine brightly, while even more galaxies can be seen behind them.
The observations suggest that the Cartwheel Galaxy is still in a “very temporary phase,” the space agency said.
“While Webb provides us with a snapshot of the current state of the Trolley, it also provides insight into what has happened to this galaxy in the past and how it will evolve. develop in the future.”