RDP Friday: UNEARTHLY
Unearthly-I’ve noticed that when I say something is ‘unearthly’ it’s to describe something of this Earth that is breathtakingly beautiful and my brain says to my eyes, ” hey good catch”
And then there are times when I see something that is truly Unearthly and beautiful and my brain can’t stop thanking my eyes for the treat.
These images from the Webb Telescope fall into the latter category.
Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, is best known for being prominently featured in the holiday classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Today, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals Stephan’s Quintet in a new light. This enormous mosaic is Webb’s largest image to date, covering about one-fifth of the Moon’s diameter. It contains over 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files. T
he information from Webb provides new insights into how galactic interactions may have driven galaxy evolution in the early universe. With its powerful, infrared vision and extremely high spatial resolution, Webb shows never-before-seen details in this galaxy group.
Sparkling clusters of millions of young stars and starburst regions of fresh star birth grace the image. Sweeping tails of gas, dust and stars are being pulled from several of the galaxies due to gravitational interactions. Most dramatically, Webb captures huge shock waves as one of the galaxies, NGC 7318B, smashes through the cluster.
Together, the five galaxies of Stephan’s Quintet are also known as the Hickson Compact Group 92 (HCG 92). Although called a “quintet,” only four of the galaxies are truly close together and caught up in a cosmic dance. The fifth and leftmost galaxy, called NGC 7320, is well in the foreground compared with the other four. NGC 7320 resides 40 million light-years from Earth, while the other four galaxies (NGC 7317, NGC 7318A, NGC 7318B, and NGC 7319) are about 290 million light-years away.
This is still fairly close in cosmic terms, compared with more distant galaxies billions of light-years away. Studying such relatively nearby galaxies like these helps scientists better understand structures seen in a much more distant universe.
The dimmer star at the center of this scene has been sending out rings of gas and dust for thousands of years in all directions, and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has revealed for the first time that this star is cloaked in dust.Two cameras aboard Webb captured the latest image of this planetary nebula, cataloged as NGC 3132, and known informally as the Southern Ring Nebula. It is approximately 2,500 light-years away.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has delivered the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe so far. Webb’s First Deep Field is galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, and it is teeming with thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared.
Webb’s image is approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length, a tiny sliver of the vast universe. The combined mass of this galaxy cluster acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying more distant galaxies, including some seen when the universe was less than a billion years old. This deep field, taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totaling 12.5 hours – achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond the Hubble Space Telescope’s deepest fields, which took weeks. And this is only the beginning. Researchers will continue to use Webb to take longer exposures, revealing more of our vast universe.
This image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago, with many more galaxies in front of and behind the cluster. Much more about this cluster will be revealed as researchers begin digging into Webb’s data. This field was also imaged by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), which observes mid-infrared light.