Another Ghostly Spiral Galaxy Revealed by JWST

JWST and IC 5332
This image of the spiral galaxy IC 5332, taken by the NASA/ESA/CSA JWST observatory, with its MIRI instrument. Courtesy ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST and PHANGS-HST Teams

The famous American baseball player once said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” That’s certainly true of the JWST, which just released its latest “spider-web” image of a distant galaxy. It “watched” IC 5332 using the onboard Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI). In the process it observed spectacular details not easily seen in visible light.

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Webb Scans a Nearby Brown Dwarf and Finds it has Clouds Made of Sand

An artist's conception of a brown dwarf. A new study identifies CK Vulpeculae as the remnant of a collison between a brown dwarf and a white dwarf. Image: By NASA/JPL-Caltech (http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/image/114) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
An artist's conception of a brown dwarf. A new study identifies CK Vulpeculae as the remnant of a collison between a brown dwarf and a white dwarf. Image: By NASA/JPL-Caltech (http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/image/114) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In its first few months of operation, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is already proving that it was well worth the wait! To date, it has provided astronomers with the most detailed and precise images of the cosmos, conducted observations of iconic galaxies and nebulae, peered to the very edge of the Universe, and obtained spectra from distant exoplanets. These resulting images, made public through the JWST Early Release Science (ERS) program, have provided a good cross-section of what this next-generation observatory can do.

Among its many objectives, the JWST will provide valuable insights into the formation and evolution of exoplanet systems through direct imaging. Using data from the ERS, an international team of astronomers and astrophysicists conducted a direct imaging study of a brown dwarf companion (VHS 1256-1257 b) orbiting within a triple brown dwarf system approximately 69.0 light-years away. The spectra they obtained from this body provided a detailed composition of its atmosphere, which included an unexpected find – clouds made of silicate minerals (aka. sand)!

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Webb Turns its Infrared Gaze on Mars

Graphic of Webb’s 2 NIRCam instrument images of Mars, taken on Sept. 5, 2022. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Mars JWST/GTO team

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the most complex and sophisticated observatory ever deployed. Using its advanced suite of infrared instruments, coronographs, and spectrometers – contributed by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) – this observatory will spend the next ten to twenty years building on the achievements of its predecessor, the venerable Hubble. This includes exoplanet characterization, star and planet formation, and the formation and evolution of the earliest galaxies in the Universe.

However, one of the main objectives of the JWST is to study the planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and other celestial bodies here in the Solar System. This includes Mars, the first Solar planet to get the James Webb treatment! The images Webb took (recently released by the ESA) provide a unique perspective on Mars, showing what the planet looks like in infrared wavelengths. The data yielded by these images could provide new insight into Mars’ atmosphere and environment, complimenting decades of observations by orbiters, landers, rovers, and other telescopes.

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Uh oh, There’s a Problem With one of Webb’s Science Instruments

James Webb

James Webb is currently experiencing problems with its MIRI instrument. The problem is due to increased friction in one of MIRI’s mechanisms in the Medium-Resolution Spectroscopy (MRS) mode. The observatory is otherwise healthy, but the team decided to stop observations using MRS mode until they find a solution.

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Wow! Here's Webb's View of the Tarantula Nebula

The Tarantula Nebula as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team.

Here’s the Tarantula Nebula like we’ve never seen it before. The James Webb Space Telescope turned its detectors towards the Large Magellanic Cloud about 161,000 lightyears away to take a look at 30 Doradus, more commonly known as the Tarantula Nebula. JWST’s exceptional infrared view has now revealed thousands of never-before-seen young stars in this stellar nursery, as well incredible views of the wispy, dusty filaments and the impressive collection of massive older stars.

There is so much detail in this image, if you download the full-sized version, you can pan and zoom around to see details on stars and the surrounding dust and gas. And there are even other, more distant galaxies dotting the background. If you have a big screen, even better, as it takes up over 14,000 x 8,000 pixels. Or, take a look at the video tour, below.

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JWST Takes Its First Image of an Exoplanet

This image shows the exoplanet HIP 65426 b in different bands of infrared light, as seen from the James Webb Space Telescope. This is the first exoplanet imaged by JWST. Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA, A Carter (UCSC), the ERS 1386 team, and A. Pagan (STScI).

The James Webb Space Telescope has taken its first direct image of an exoplanet, a planet outside our Solar System. The exoplanet, HIP 65425 b is a gas giant that orbits an A-type star, has a mass of about nine times that of Jupiter and is about 355 light-years from Earth. While the planet has virtually no chance of being habitable, the data from these observations show just how powerful a tool JWST will be for studying exoplanets.

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JWST Finds a Clear, Unambiguous Signal for Carbon Dioxide in an Exoplanet’s Atmosphere

A transmission spectrum of the hot gas giant exoplanet WASP-39 b, captured by Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) on July 10, 2022, reveals the first definitive evidence for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet outside the Solar System. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and L. Hustak (STScI). Science: The JWST Transiting Exoplanet Community Early Release Science Team

An early – and exciting — science result from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was announced today: the first unambiguous detection of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. This is the first detailed evidence for carbon dioxide ever detected in a planet outside our Solar System.

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Gaze Into the Heart of NGC 1365, Captured by Webb

Close up of the NGC 1365 galaxy, based on data obtained by JWST. Credit: Schmidt, J./JWST

Astrophotographer Judy Schmidt (aka. Geckzilla, SpaceGeck) is at it again! Earlier this month, she released a processed image of the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy (NGC 1365). The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) recently observed this iconic double-barred spiral galaxy, which resulted in the most-detailed look at this galaxy to date. This time, Schmidt shared a series of images via Twitter that provide a closer look at NGC 1365’s core region, a widefield view that shows the galaxy’s long arms, and lovely animation that shows the galaxy in near- and mid-infrared wavelengths.

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Webb Telescope Sees Jupiter and Its Auroras in a New Light

JWST view of Jupiter
The James Webb Space Telescope's NIRCam imager produced this composite image of the Jupiter system using orange and cyan filters. The image shows Jupiter's auroras as bright rims at the poles. The planet's rings and two of its moons, Amalthea and Adrastea, are also visible. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Jupiter ERS Team; image processing by Ricardo Hueso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is designed to probe the farthest frontiers of the universe, but newly released images of Jupiter prove that the observatory can also bring fresh perspectives to more familiar celestial sights.

The infrared images reveal Jupiter’s polar auroras and its faint rings as well as two of its moons — plus some galaxies in the far background. The planet’s Great Red Spot is there as well, but because it’s seen through three of JWST’s specialized filters, it looks white rather than red.

JWST’s new perspective should give scientists a better sense of how the complex Jupiter system is put together.

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Has JWST Found Proto-Globular Clusters?

This image from VISTA is a tiny part of the VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) survey that is systematically studying the central parts of the Milky Way in infrared light. On the right lies the globular star cluster UKS 1 and on the left lies a much less conspicuous new discovery, VVV CL001 — a previously unknown globular, one of just 160 known globular clusters in the Milky Way at the time of writing. The new globular appears as a faint grouping of stars about 25% of the width of the image from the left edge, and about 60% of the way from bottom to top. Credit: ESO/D. Minniti/VVV Team

The James Webb Space Telescope continues to deliver surprise after surprise. Next up, a team of astronomers have identified likely candidates for proto-globular clusters. Clusters like these can help astronomers understand the evolution and ultimate fate of galaxies like our own.

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