One day, a breathtaking view of the cosmos thanks to NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. The latest arrival shows how the next-generation observatory is able to reveal exquisite detail of the Tarantula Nebula, a picturesque region of gas, dust and hot young stars.
The JWST sees the universe in infrared light, which allows it to peer deep into space objects. Images of the Tarantula Nebula are a prime example. “An array of high-resolution infrared instruments working together reveal the stars, structure and composition of the nebula in a level of detail not previously possible”NASA said in a statement Tuesday.
The telescope’s near-infrared spectrograph (NIRSpec) approached one of the stars in the nebula. It was a revelation, as researchers originally thought the star was a bit older and was giving off a bubble around itself. “However, NIRSpec showed that the star (…) still maintained an insulating cloud of dust around it”said NASA.
More Magic James Webb
The observatory’s MIRI (Mid-infrared Instrument) sees into the longer wavelengths of infrared and therefore provides a different perspective. The MIRI image zooms in on the nebula’s central star cluster. “Hot stars fade, while cooler gas and dust shine”says NASA. “Within the clouds of the stellar nursery, bright spots indicate embedded protostars, which are still gaining mass.”
Webb’s MIRI instrument highlights gas, dust and protostars
Astronomers eagerly await observations of the Tarantula Nebula by the Webb Telescope, for what they will reveal about star formation and for how the nebula’s activities compare to future observations of galaxies in the early universe. .
Webb, a joint NASA, European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency project, has been delivering stunning views of the cosmos and new scientific discoveries since it became fully operational earlier this year. “Webb has already begun to reveal a universe never seen before”said NASA, “and is only beginning to rewrite the history of stellar creation”.