NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope has new images for us, and it has us doing cartwheels.
Last month, the space organization blew us away when it revealed the telescope’s first set of images that featured out-of-this-world looks into distant galaxies, stunning star nurseries, dying stars, and once-hidden black holes. Now, the latest photo is no exception.
The new image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope shows the Cartwheel Galaxy alongside two “smaller companion galaxies, against a backdrop of many other galaxies.”
According to NASA, the new pic reveals that the Cartwheel Galaxy has a bright inner ring and a colorful exterior ring, which was birthed from a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy.
On Tuesday, the space organization released the image of the far-away galaxy — named for its resemblance to a wagon wheel.
The agency said in a press release that this particular galaxy is located about 500 million light-years away in the Sculptor constellation.
According to NASA, the galaxy’s right inner ring contains a high amount of hot dust. The brightest areas hold massive amounts of young star clusters.
The outer ring has been growing from the center of the collision for around 440 million years.
In addition, the Cartwheel Galaxy is categorized as a “ring galaxy.” These galaxies are rarer than spiral galaxies like our Milky Way, per the agency.
Webb Telescope reveals astonishing Cartwheel Galaxy, show’s galaxy’s past, present, and future
For years, NASA has been attempting to get a clear look at the mysterious galaxy. But, until now, it hadn’t been able to because of the amount of dust that hindered the view.
However, the Webb Space Telescope, whose Near-Infrared Camera can detect infrared light, has captured young stars forming in the outer ring.
The image has also provided insight into what happened to the Cartwheel Galaxy and how it is likely to evolve.
NASA said that the galaxy, which was “presumably a normal galaxy like the Milky Way before its collision,” is in a transitory phase and will continue to transform.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. According to the organization, Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system. It will also give us a glimpse into distant worlds, and delve into our universe’s structures and origins.
Webb is also an international program led by NASA with its partners, European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency.
Webb, the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope, left Earth in December of last year. It reached its lookout point 1 million miles away in January.
After aligning mirrors, ensuring the detectors were operating, and calibrating instruments, Webb began peering into the wonderous depths of space.