NASA’s Webb Space Telescope reveals a glowing universe in its biggest image yet

For the James Webb Space Telescope, important stations have been relentless. Just over a month after this pioneering instrument impressed mankind after releasing its first intergalactic views, nebula images and stellar illustrations, it has given us its biggest picture yet.

Last week, international scholars joined The Science of Cosmic Evolution’s Early Launch. The survey, or CEERS, provided a huge, color mosaic generated from data collected by the JWST. This is a record-breaking mural known as Epoch 1, covering a small patch of sky near the handle of the Big Dipper constellation.

Raster image showing red dot on black space

This red pixelated dot could be a galaxy that only existed a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, also known as the Macy’s Galaxy. The scale bar is 1 kiloparsec (about 3,260 light years).

Finkelstein et al. (2022) / NASA / ESA / CSA / STScI

previously, CEERS. cooperation It was Era 1 peak detectionMany sent astronomers down JWST’s rabbit hole and posted about the galactic goodies inside. For example, CEERS project manager Stephen Finkelstein Announced an article submission last month About the “Very Persuasive” filter for galaxy It would have existed only 290 million years after the Big Bang. It’s called Macy’s Galaxy, After her daughter, because she was discovered on her birthday.

But now CEERS says Era 1 is officially over.

To know how exactly big This latest image, the team shows, covers an area eight times larger than JWST’s first deep field, released on July 11, which was already curiously huge. The final mosaic consists of 690 individual images captured with the JWST near-infrared camera and will be built from observations scheduled for December.

“Epoch 1 covers less than half of our total study area in the sky, and the images have already led to new discoveries and an unexpected, but not unwelcome, abundance of galaxies never seen before,” said the CEERS team in a press. Release. .

You can download a medium or high resolution version from the image here – but if you are shooting for the latter, as I did, CEERS recommends using a computer or laptop. Due to the size of this file, your mobile phone may start working.

Well, now that you have the right picture, let’s discuss some of the highlights. There are six main points of interest, according to the CEERS team. This is a diagram.

Here is the full outline of a CEERS Epoch 1 image. At the bottom are close-ups of some of the mosaic highlights.

NASA/STScI/CEERS/TACC/S. Finkelstein/M. Bagley / Z. Levi

First, (1) the spiral galaxy is located in the upper left, giving off a redshift of z=0.16.

Redshift is basically how astronomers measure an object’s distance, and therefore past. It was named for the fact that as a bright object recedes from our sight, the light emitted becomes redder…and redder, eventually falling into the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum and becoming invisible to the human eye. Fear not, however, because JWST can also collect this “invisible” light, which is also why it promises to reveal an “unfiltered universe”, a phrase you may have seen online.

In short, a larger redshift means something is farther from Earth.

Then (2) towards the center of the image is a bright galaxy with a redshift of z=1.05. This spot also contains many smaller galaxies that appear as an arc when viewed with JWST. On August 15, Rebecca Larson, a PhD student in astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the CEERS collaboration, tweeted her adorable name for this scene.

“TBT on a late night when this galaxy decided… looked like Pacman and proceeded to do the little yellow dude overlay and laughed so hard until we all decided it was time to go home” , Larson’s Books.

To the right of this snout, (3), is a system of interacting galaxies at z=1.4. Finkelstein called this person “Space Kraken,” Larson tweeted. It looks suspiciously like a fearsome ancient sea monster.

Move to another, (4), and you’ll notice a pair of spiral galaxies – in the enlarged version below the diagram, a white arrow indicates a supernova in this section of the sky which was also discovered by JWST. Here the redshift is z = 0.7. CEERS published an article last month on these phenomena in particular, because a comparison of the JWST version of the duo with the Hubble Space Telescope might have yielded a lot of new information.

Below, (5) is another special spiral galaxy at z=0.7, and finally, (6) there is a galaxy az=0.63 with a tidal tail and a red background galaxy cluster located at z=1.85. Larson tweeted of this messy scene, “I tried to call this feature a ‘hot mess in space’ but the reporters said ‘no’.”

And of course, CEERS also highlights the Maisie Galaxy in a detailed infographic below. If Finkelstein and his colleagues are correct about this point 290 million light-years after the Big Bang, it has a staggering redshift of z=14. Plus, it basically proves that galaxies started forming a lot earlier in the universe than astronomers once thought.

Dark space background shows different angles of the Maisie galaxy.  The closest copy of the image is on the lower left, depicting a patch of reddish light.

Here is an image showing the galaxy known as the Maisie Galaxy.

NASA/STScI/CEERS/TACC/S. Finkelstein/M. Bagley / Z. Levi

However, due to the abundance of very distant candidate galaxies that have been observed since the JWST run, Many scientists warn there may be false hope. A research paper published earlier this month in The Astrophysical Journal by CEERS collaborators, for example, highlights the potential for error when verifying such high redshift worlds. Essentially irrelevant cosmic phenomena could be bursts of data light, thus polluting the results.

However, the new era of astronomy we find ourselves in is very exciting.

“I hope you are as inspired by this telescope and data as I was excited. I am so lucky to share it with you and hope you find your new favorite galaxies there too!” Larsson tweeted in the conclusion of a brilliant topic on the CEERS map.


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