NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured an image of a spiral galaxy in unprecedented detail. The galaxyWhich lies more than 29 million light-years away, slightly larger than the Milky Way.
Great photo taken by Mid-infrared instrument (MIRI), characterized by the spiral arms of IC 5332. The galaxy was also observed by the Hubble Space Telescope earlier. While the Hubble telescope also provided an impressive image of IC 5332, it was unable to observe the mid-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum because “its mirrors weren’t cold enough.”
That’s why the scientists used MIRI, the only JWST instrument sensitive to the mid-infrared region. MIRI is capable of delivering sharp mid-infrared images and can operate as cold as -266 degrees Celsius, which is 33 degrees Celsius lower than other observatories and just 7 degrees Celsius warmer than absolute zero, according to European Space Agency (ESA .)).
MIRI helped capture details in the spiral galaxy that the Hubble Space Telescope couldn’t. IC 5332 is about 66,000 light-years across, making it larger than our galaxy. Besides, the galaxy also has a strategic location where it is “almost completely facing in relation to the Earth”. This allows astronomers to observe “symmetric scanning of its spiral arms”.
In the image captured by JWST, continuous tangles of structures are seen that reflect the shape of the galaxy’s spiral arm. The Hubble Telescope image of the same galaxy shows dark areas that appear to separate the two arms.
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), this difference is due to the dusty regions of IC 5332 through which most visible and ultraviolet light fail and result in dark areas as shown in the Hubble image. But mid-infrared light can penetrate these areas which is why the JWST image contains no dark areas.
The two images also contain different stars because some stars appear brighter in ultraviolet, visible, and infrared, respectively.
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