Home News The dance of merged galaxies captured in a new Webb Telescope image

The dance of merged galaxies captured in a new Webb Telescope image

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The beautiful mess of two merging galaxies shine bright in the latest image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope.

Vice President Kamala Harris and French President Emmanuel Macron viewed the new Web image, along with a composite of the Pillars of New Creation captured by the space observatory, during a visit to NASA Headquarters in Washington on Wednesday.

The Webb telescope is designed to observe faint, distant galaxies and other worlds and is an international mission between NASA and its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

The pair of galaxies, known as II ZW 96, lie about 500 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Delphine. The bright spots in the background of the image represent other, more distant galaxies.

The swirling shape of the two galaxies was created when they began to merge, disrupting their individual shape. Galaxy mergers occur when two or more galaxies collide in space.

Bright regions glow as stars are born in the center of the image, while the spiral arms of the lower galaxy are twisted by the gravity of the merger.

Stars form when clouds of gas and dust collapse into galaxies. When galaxies merge, more star formation is triggered—and astronomers want to know why.

Bright regions of star birth are of interest to Webb astronomers because they appear brighter when viewed in infrared light.

While infrared is invisible to the human eye, Webb’s abilities allow him to spy on previously unknown aspects of the universe.

A near-infrared webcam and mid-infrared device were used to capture the new image.

Astronomers use the observatory to study the evolution of galaxies and, among other topics, why bright infrared galaxies like II ZW 96 glow so brightly in infrared light, which is more than 100 billion times brighter than sunlight.

The researchers used Webb’s tools to merge galaxies, including II ZW 96, to pinpoint fine details and compare images with those taken previously by ground-based telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope. Together, the observations can reveal a fuller picture of how galaxies have changed over time.

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