Ever since NASA released the first incredible images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), things have been pretty quiet. A few weeks later, stunning images of the Cartwheel galaxy and, this week, beautiful images of Jupiter were also released. However, for those expecting a daily burst of incredible JWST images from NASA, it’s been a waiting game.
There is a way to see the latest images from JWST. On Twitter and Flickr, a handful of astrophotographers process and post stunning images of JWST’s latest observations. Raw image data is available on the MAST portal, although processing it requires a lot of skill.
So, while we wait for NASA to release more official images, here are a few that have been shared on social media, largely by astrophotographer Judy Schmidt working on the long-running Physics at High Angular resolution in Near GalaxieS (PHANGS) studying stars and gases in spiral galaxies using several different telescopes. She recently posted some intriguing images of the phantom galaxy as seen by JWST and has since uploaded some absolute gems:
1. Dust in the “Great Barred Spiral Galaxy”
The incredible new image (main image at the top of this article) is the result of JWST’s ability to capture in infrared, which allows it to see through gases and dust.
Also known as NGC 1356, this dusty double-barred spiral galaxy exists about 56 million light-years away in the constellation Fornax.
“Interestingly, the dust bar isn’t as noticeable as it is in visible light,” Schmidt said on Flickr. “At the center is a modest active galactic nucleus (AGN). Circumnuclear dust is also quite striking.
The image was captured by JWST’s MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument), a camera and spectrograph that sees light in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum.
2. A close-up of the center of the “Great Barred Spiral Galaxy”
This close-up of NGC 1365, posted to Twitter by Schmidt (above), shows its core. He was captured by JWST’s NIR Cam (Near Infrared Camera), whose job is to detect the light of the first stars and galaxies.
3. Spiral Galaxy IC 5332
IC 5332 (above), a spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor, is another example of how JWST’s MIRI camera produces better than those of Hubble.
4. NGC 7496 barred spiral galaxy
Another barred spiral galaxy captured using MIRI, this new image (above) of NGC 7496 shows a bright active galactic nucleus (AGN). It lies over 24 million light-years away in the constellation Grus. Here is the Hubble Space Telescope view of this beautiful symmetrical galaxy from the same PHANGS survey.
5. Galaxy IC 1623B
This image (above) created by Roberto Colombari using data from JWST’s NIRCam instrument shows IC 1623B, an interaction pair in the constellation Cetus. It is 250 light years away. Like many distant galaxies, IC 1623 is very bright when observed in the infrared, which is why JWST is proving such a boon to astronomers.
During its initial 10-year mission, JWST will study the solar system, directly image exoplanets, photograph early galaxies, and explore the mysteries of the origins of the Universe.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.
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