Here’s the Largest Image JWST Has Taken So Far

Image of CEERS scientists looking at the Epoch 1 NIRCam color mosaic in TACC's visualization lab at UT Austin. Credit: R. Larson

A team of scientists using the James Webb Space Telescope have just released the largest image taken by the telescope so far. The image is a mosaic of 690 individual frames taken with the telescope’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and it covers an area of sky about eight times as large as JWST’s First Deep Field Image released on July 12. And it is absolutely FULL of stunning early galaxies, many never seen before. Additionally, the team may have photographed one of the most distant galaxies yet observed.

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Here’s a Sneak Preview of What It’ll Look Like When the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies Collide

galaxies collide
This image from the Gemini North telescope in Hawai‘i reveals a pair of interacting spiral galaxies — NGC 4568 (bottom) and NGC 4567 (top) — as they begin to clash and merge. The galaxies will eventually form a single elliptical galaxy in around 500 million years.

When big spiral galaxies collide, they don’t end up as one really big spiral. Instead, they create a humongous elliptical galaxy. That’s the fate awaiting the Andromeda Galaxy and our Milky Way. They’ll tangle in a galactic dance starting in a few billion years. Want to know what it’s going to look like when the action starts? The Gemini North telescope in Hawai’i just released a stunning image of two galaxies like ours tangling it up. These are NGC 4568 and NGC 4567 and their interaction provides a sneak peek at our galactic neighborhood in the distant future.

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Dwarf Galaxies Found Without Influence From Dark Matter

Dwarf galaxy in Fornax.
The dwarf galaxy NGC1427A flies through the Fornax galaxy cluster and undergoes disturbances which would not be possible if this galaxy were surrounded by a heavy and extended dark matter halo, as required by standard cosmology. Courtesy ESO.

Ask astronomers about dark matter and one of the things they talk about is that this invisible, mysterious “stuff” permeates the universe. In particular, it exists in halos surrounding most galaxies. The mass of the halo exerts a strong gravitational influence on the galaxy itself, as well as on others in the neighborhood. That’s pretty much the standard view of dark matter and its influence on galaxies. However, there are problems with the idea of those halos. Apparently, some oddly shaped dwarf galaxies exist that look like they have no halos. How could this be? Do they represent an observationally induced challenge to the prevailing ideas about dark matter halos?

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JWST Turns Its Gaze on the Cartwheel Galaxy

Cartwheel Galaxy
This image of the Cartwheel and its companion galaxies is a composite from Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). Courtesy NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI.

The Cartwheel Galaxy, also known as ESO 350-40, is one disturbed-looking piece of cosmic real estate. To look at it now, especially in the latest JWST view, you’d never know it used to be a gorgeous spiral galaxy. That was before it got involved in a head-on collision with a companion. The encounter happened somewhere around 200-300 million years ago. Essentially, the smaller galaxy “bulls-eyed” the Cartwheel, right through its heart. A shock wave swept through the system, changing everything. The aftermath is what we see in this latest image from JWST.

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JWST Sees the Most Distant Galaxy Ever, Just 300 Million Years After the Big Bang

galaxies from JWST

By now, almost everyone has seen the first-release images from JWST and marveled at these amazing views of the infrared universe the telescope was launched to explore. The view of SMACS 0723 seen above illustrates the promise JWST holds. While there are many more early-release images in the observation pipeline, we’re starting to see the first research papers come out. As expected, studies of distant galaxies are grabbing headlines already.

Wow, are these findings amazing! In the last couple of days, websites and social media have been alive with images of a blob that, in reality, is one of the oldest (earliest) galaxies ever seen. It’s one of two—GL-z11 and GL-z13—that show us what they looked like when the Universe was extremely young, about 300 million years after the Big Bang. When confirmed, they’ll mark a milestone in studies of the infant Universe.

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The Earliest Galaxies Rotated Slowly, Revving up Over Billions of Years

This image features the spiral galaxy NGC 691, imaged in fantastic detail by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). This galaxy is the eponymous member of the NGC 691 galaxy group, a group of gravitationally bound galaxies that lie about 120 million light-years from Earth.  Objects such as NGC 691 are observed by Hubble using a range of filters. Each filter only allows certain wavelengths of light to reach Hubble’s WFC3. The images collected using different filters are then coloured by specialised visual artists who can make informed choices about which colour best corresponds to which filter. By combining the coloured images from individual filters, a full-colour image of the astronomical object can be recreated. In this way, we can get remarkably good insight into the nature and appearance of these objects. Links Video of the Eponymous NGC 691

A team of astronomers have used the ALMA telescope to find a slowly-rotating galaxy in the early universe. That galaxy is the youngest ever found with a measured rotation, and it’s much slower than present-day galaxies.

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Dusty Dark Galaxies in the Early Universe Revealed in Various Wavelengths

Artist's impression of a dust-enshrouded starburst (credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser).
Artist's impression of a dust-enshrouded starburst (credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser).

Well, this is the week for distant galaxies, isn’t it? Not only has JWST revealed some of the most distant ones ever seen in infrared, but other observatories are studying them, too. Astronomers at the Cosmic Dawn Center in Copenhagen recently discovered several interesting ones in the early Universe. However, they had to get through clouds of dust to do it. Their observations revealed several interesting characteristics of objects that existed when the Universe was only a tenth of its current age.

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Plenty of Examples That Giant Galaxies Like the Milky Way Formed Through Mergers

The Universe’s giant galaxies pose a thorny problem for astronomers. The galaxies have grown large somehow, and the only things that can make a galaxy giant are probably other galaxies. So mergers must have played an important role.

Astronomers have known about galaxy mergers for a long time, but the process is still mysterious. A new study based on ten years of work presents observations and direct measurements of the galaxy merger process that remove some of the mystery.

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This Tiny Dot is one of the Biggest, Most Active Galaxy Superclusters Ever Seen. It Was Already a Monster Shortly After the Big Bang

A false-color image of the far-infrared emission from a massive protocluster of galaxies (in the circle) dating from the epoch about 1.4 billion years after the big bang. Astronomers have completed deep optical and infrared observations of the complex and concluded that the star formation processes at work, although exceptionally active, generally seem to follow the same processes seen in our galaxy. Credit: NASA/ESA/Herschel; Miller et al.

A newly discovered supercluster of galaxies is so distant that astronomers say its light has been traveling for over twelve billion years to reach telescopes on Earth. But this cluster, named SPT2349 ?56 is gigantic, and so old that it is actually classified as a proto-cluster of galaxies, meaning it might be one of the earliest large clusters of galaxies in our Universe. It is also one of the most actively star-forming proto-clusters known.

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Andromeda Tore Apart and Consumed a Neighbor Galaxy

Image of the Andromeda Galaxy, showing Messier 32 to the lower left, which is currently merging with Andromeda. Credit: Wikipedia Commons/Torben Hansen

Things may seem quiet and peaceful in the Andromeda Galaxy when you gaze at it in the sky. However, if you know what to look for, there’s evidence of a violent rumble in this galaxy’s past. That’s the takeaway from research by Ivanna Escala, an astronomer at Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena. She found telltale clues for a merger a few billion years ago. That’s when Andromeda actively cannibalized another galaxy.

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