December 3, 2022
'Cosmic Bones': James Webb reveals unprecedented details of galaxy IC 5332 |  Sciences

‘Cosmic Bones’: James Webb reveals unprecedented details of galaxy IC 5332 | Sciences

29,000 light-years away from Earth is a galaxy very similar to our own Milky Way IC 5332aligned almost perfectly in the sky “facing” our planet.

The giant cosmic structure has already been observed by other telescopes, but for the first time, it was discovered James Webb Super Telescopethe largest and most powerful space telescope ever built, turned his instruments at him.

Webb’s images, published on Tuesday (27), revealed unprecedented details of the spiral galaxy.

according to NASAthe US space agency, “bones” IC 5332, that is, the dark regions that separate the spiral arms of the galaxy, usually hidden by the cosmic dust that surrounds the region, It can be observed for the first time.

This was possible for one reason: James Webb has very cool gadgets.

The space agency explains that the Megatelescope’s Medium Infrared Instrument (MIRI) instrument was responsible for the act.

The device is like a camera that sees the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum at longer wavelengths than our eyes can see.

However, to work, MIRI must be at extremely low temperatures: around -266°C (A number very close to absolute zero, the lowest possible temperature, according to the laws of physics).

ESA explains: “It is very difficult to observe the mid-infrared radiation from the Earth, as the atmosphere of our planet absorbs a lot, and the heat from the Earth’s atmosphere further complicates matters.”

However, according to the space agency, the Hubble telescope, the “big cousin of the Web,” can’t see the mid-infrared region because its instruments aren’t cool enough to do so.

This is why Hubble captured the same galaxy (see picture below) Completely different from Webb’s new image.

Hubble image of the same galaxy observed by James Webb, IC 5332. – Image: ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, J. Lee, PHANGS-JWST team and PHANGS-HST

Compared to the Hubble image, the Web image shows a continuous tangle of structures that mirror the shape of the spiral arms.

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), this difference is due to the presence of dusty regions in the galaxy, where ultraviolet and visible light (as seen by Hubble) are more likely to be scattered by interstellar dust than infrared light.

Similarly, there are different stars appearing in the two images, and this can be explained by the fact that some stars shine more brightly depending on the observed frequency.

“The images complement each other remarkably, each of which tells us more about the structure and composition of IC 5332,” the agency added.

(video: See the first images released by the James Webb Super Telescope.)

See the first images released by the James Webb Super Telescope.