A fine trail of dust and bright star clusters stretches across this image from the James Webb Space Telescope. The bright tendrils of gas and stars belong to barred spiral galaxy NGC 5068, whose bright central bar is visible in the upper left corner of this image a composite of two Webb instruments. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson unveiled the image Friday during an event with students at the Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw, Poland.
NGC 5068 lies about 20 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo. This image of the galaxy’s central, bright star-forming regions is part of a campaign to create the Astronomical Treasure, a repository of observations of star formation in nearby galaxies. Previous gems from this collection can be seen here (IC 5332) and here (M74).
These observations are particularly valuable to astronomers for two reasons. The first is that star formation underlies many areas of astronomy, from the physics of the thin plasma that lies between stars to the evolution of entire galaxies. Astronomers hope to spark a major scientific advance by observing the formation of stars in nearby galaxies with some of the first available data from Webb.
The second reason is that James Webb Space telescope observations build on other studies using telescopes including the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories. Webb collected images of 19 nearby star-forming galaxies, which astronomers were then able to combine with HST images of 10,000 star clusters, spectroscopic mapping of 20,000 star-forming emission nebulae from the Very Large Telescope (VLT), and observations of 12,000 dark, dense molecular clouds.
Identified by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). These observations cover the entire electromagnetic spectrum and give astronomers an unprecedented opportunity to piece together signatures of star formation.
With its ability to peer through the gas and dust surrounding newborn stars, Webb is particularly well-suited to investigating the processes that drive star formation. Stars and planetary systems are born among swirling clouds of gas and dust that are opaque to visible light observatories like Hubble or the VLT.
The keen infrared vision of two of James Webb Space telescope instruments MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) and NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) allowed astronomers to see right through the vast dust clouds in NGC 5068 and capture star formation processes. they happened. This image combines the capabilities of the two instruments to provide a truly unique view of the composition of NGC 5068.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s leading observatory for space science. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look further to distant worlds around other stars, and explore the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.