The Webb Space Telescope’s latest target is one previously imaged by Hubble: the distant barred spiral galaxy EGS23205. Goals like this will boost our understanding of the early universe and how ancient stars and galaxies formed.
The two images above show EGS23205 as seen by Hubble and Webb. The Hubble image of the galaxy (taken in the near infrared) is much noisier and the structure of the galaxy is more difficult to discern. But Webb’s image (at mid-infrared wavelengths) is much sharper, revealing a clear bar of stars extending from the galactic center.
Star bars are huge galactic cross sections made up of countless stars. The bars play an important role in galactic evolution; they push gas toward the galactic center, helping drive star formation and fueling the supermassive black holes that lie within the galactic nuclei. Our own Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy.
Image analysis was presented to the arXiv preprint server last year. Webb has photographed many ancient galaxies in his mere six months of science operations.
Some of Webb’s goals are among the first galaxies seen so farthey appear to Webb as they were only several hundred million years after the Big Bang (the universe is now about 14 billion years old).
EGS23205 looks like it did about 11 billion years ago. The image reveals that even the earliest galaxies had well-defined bars (spiral galaxies were previously thought arrive much later to the universe).
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“The barely visible bars in the Hubble data just showed up in the JWST image, showing the tremendous power of JWST to see the underlying structure in galaxiessaid Shardha Jogee, an astronomer at UT Austin and co-author of the research, in a Press release.
Webb has previously photographed other objects once captured by Hubble. In Octoberthe new $10 billion observatory gazed at the Pillars of Creation, massive Gas and dust plumes in the Eagle Nebula. In the same month, Webb’s team produced an image of merging galaxies 270 million light-years from Earth, photographed by Hubble in 2008.
The two space telescopes observe at different wavelengths for the most part: Hubble primarily at visible wavelengths and Webb primarily in the infrared and near-infrared. Webb’s vivid work is built on Hubble’s mechanical shoulders. side by side image The comparisons show the differences in these impressive observatories and what is possible with the newest technology.
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