New Webb Telescope image of Tarantula Nebula catches thousands of never-before-seen stars

The Tarantula Nebula as seen by the Webb Near-Infrared Camera.NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Group

  • Astronomers have taken a new image of the Tarantula Nebula with the James Webb Space Telescope.

  • The nebula, also called 30 Doradus, is about 160,000 light-years away.

  • Webb’s instruments captured thousands of never-before-seen young stars shrouded in cosmic dust.

Astronomers focused the James Webb Space Telescope on the Tarantula Nebula, one of the brightest and most active star-forming regions in our galactic backyard, and found thousands of never-before-seen young stars, images released by NASA on Tuesday show.

The Tarantula Nebula, also called 30 Doradus, is a massive cloud of gas and dust about 160,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. The nebula has given birth to some of the hottest and most massive stars known, some with masses greater than 150 times the mass of our sun.

To learn more about this stellar birthplace, astronomers trained three of Webb’s high-resolution infrared instruments on it. By collecting infrared light, the $10 billion telescope is able to cut through cosmic gas and dust, penetrating deeper into the universe than telescopes using visible light.

The new Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) image of Webb’s nebula, above, shows strands of gas that look like spider webs, “the home of a burrowing tarantula, lined with its silk,” according to NASA.

The image, which spans 340 light-years, shows distant galaxies in the background that look like fuzzy white dots. A cluster of massive young stars can be seen in the center of the image in brilliant blue. The space around young stars is where the gas has been scrubbed away by the stars’ intense radiation and stellar winds.

A side-by-side view of the same region of the Tarantula Nebula highlights the distinctions between Webb's near-infrared (closer to visible red, left) and mid-infrared (more visible red, right) images.

A side-by-side view of the same area of ​​the Tarantula Nebula shows the difference between Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera, left, and Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument, right.NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI

Astronomers examined the same region at longer infrared wavelengths detected by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). In the right image above, “hot stars are extinguished and cooler gas and dust shine,” NASA said. Webb’s mid-infrared lens reveals tiny points of light, which are not fully formed stars, but prostars still in the process of forming in dust cocoons, according to NASA.

Webb's Near-Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSpec) took a look at what appeared to be a bubble in the nebula, but found a young star still shrouded in a cloud of gas.

The Webb Near-Infrared Spectrograph took a look at what appeared to be a bubble in the nebula, but found a young star still shrouded in a cloud of gas.NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

Using Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSpec), astronomers also captured an emerging star breaking free from a dust cocoon. When stars are born inside the nebula, they are surrounded by cocoon-like columns of gas and dust that block visible light.

Astronomers believe that the Tarantula Nebula belongs to the distant past of our universe. It has a similar chemical composition to the giant star-forming regions seen at the “cosmic noon” — a time period when the world was only a few billion years old and star formation was at its peak. As Webb’s new observations confirm, the nebula is still actively producing stars.

Researchers hope Webb’s observations will improve their understanding of how stars formed in the deep cosmic past, as their understanding still has gaps.

“Webb will give astronomers the opportunity to compare and contrast observations of star formation in the Tarantula Nebula with the Deep Galaxy Telescope’s observations from the true epoch of cosmic noon,” said the Space Telescope Science Institute, the agency that manages Webb. . a statement.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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