To: All explorers, new and seasoned From: The Universe 🎁 This beautiful image from the @NASAWebb Telescope is a gift from a past star. In near-infrared light, supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A) resembles a shiny ornament that decks the halls of homes during the holiday season. With its powerful vision, the Webb Telescope can detect the tiniest knots of sulfur, oxygen, argon and neon gas from the star. Embedded in the gas are dust and molecules that will eventually become part of new stars and planets. See that blob in the bottom right? Scientists have nicknamed it Baby Cas A since it looks like a tiny version of Cas A itself. Baby Cas A is a light echo: Light from the supernova has reached and is warming the distant dust in this blob. Although Baby Cas A appears very close to Cas A, it’s actually about 170 light-years behind the supernova remnant. It is our hope that this breathtaking image and stunning science inspires a bit of magic, wonder, and joy for anyone who takes a moment to look up at our shared starry-night sky. Image Description: Cassiopeia A, a round cloud of gas and dust with complex structure. The inner shell is made of bright pink and orange filaments studded with clumps and knots. Around the exterior of the inner shell, particularly at the upper right, there are curtains of wispy gas that look like campfire smoke. The white smoke-like material also appears to fill the cavity of the inner shell, featuring structures shaped like large bubbles. Around and within the nebula, there are various stars seen as points of blue and white light. Outside the nebula, there are also clumps of yellow dust, with a particularly large clump at the bottom right corner that appears to have very detailed striations. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, D. Milisavljevic (Purdue University), T. Temim (Princeton University), I. De Looze (Ghent University) #JWST#Holiday#Supernova#Star#Cassiopeia#NASA#Space
Everything is not as it seems 🪄
See that string along the bottom of this image? It’s made up of 2 baby stars spewing out almost parallel jets of gas. Astronomers used to think there was just one star, but Webb’s high-resolution view shows more to the story.
The “string” here is Herbig-Haro (HH) 797. A Herbig-Haro object is the bright region that surrounds newborn stars, formed when the stars’ outflows collide with nearby gas and dust at high speeds.
In the top half of the image, those bright objects are actually thought to contain two further baby stars! Webb’s infrared vision is particularly suited for studying young stars and their outflows, as infrared light can pierce through obscuring gas and dust.
Learn more at the ESA Picture of the Month link in our bio.
Image description: In the lower half of the image is a narrow, horizontal nebula that stretches from edge to edge. It is brightly colored, mostly in shades of red and pink, but with some green and yellow tinges on the right side as well. In the upper half of the image, there is a glowing point with multi-colored (yellow, green, and pinkish red) light radiating from it in all directions. A bright star with long diffraction spikes, partially seen, lies along the right edge. A few smaller stars are spread around. The background is dark blue and covered in a thin haze.
Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, T. Ray (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies)
Wish upon 500,000 stars 🌟
Take in this magical view of the heart of our home galaxy. Seen by the @NASAWebb telescope in unprecedented detail, Sagittarius C is a star-forming region about 300 light-years away from the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way’s center.
In this image, a cluster of baby stars glows through the cocoon of a dusty cloud. At the heart of the cluster is a still-forming star over 30 times the mass of our Sun. Wrapping around the dense cloud of dust is a previously unseen region of ionized hydrogen gas (colored cyan). Within are intriguing needle-like structures, chaotically oriented, that scientists hope to study further.
Sagittarius C is only 25,000 light years away from Earth, close enough for Webb to study individual stars. Webb’s data will help astronomers learn more about star formation in an extreme cosmic environment — and along with it, the origin story of our universe.
Download the full image and find more information at the link in @NASAWebb ’s bio. Tap and save phone wallpaper from the highlight on @NASA .
Image description: This set of images shows a field crowded with stars. A large, bright cyan-colored area surrounds the lower portion of a funnel-shaped region of space that is wider at the top edge of the image and then narrows. This funnel-shaped region appears darker than its surroundings. Toward the narrow end of this dark region a small clump of red and white appears to shoot out streamers upward and left. The cyan-colored area has needle-like structures and becomes more diffuse towards the right. The last image is dominated by clouds of orange and red, with a purple haze.
Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Samuel Crowe (UVA)
Improvise, adapt, overcome?
Rocky planets may be able to form in harsher environments than we thought. Webb detected key building blocks of planets, including water and carbon dioxide, in a rocky planet-forming zone being hit by extreme ultraviolet radiation.
Planets are formed from disks of gas, dust and rock surrounding stars. The disk Webb observed, XUE 1, is near several massive stars. These stars emit high levels of ultraviolet radiation, which scientists expected would disperse gas and break apart chemical molecules.
To the team’s surprise, Webb found partially crystalline silicate dust, plus various molecules (water, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, acetylene) that can form rocky planets. It’s the first time such molecules have been detected under these extreme conditions. More at our link in bio!
1. Graphic titled “Webb Reveals Rocky Planets Can Form in Extreme Environments.” Background illustration shows a dusty disk with patchy clouds and scattered rocky bits. At 4 o’clock and 11 o’clock are two small planets. The outer edges are reddish, the middle orange, and the inner region yellow-white.
2. Graphic titled “Rocky planet-forming region; disk XUE 1. Data from Webb’s MIRI instrument.” Text below reads: “Scientists expected harsh ultraviolet radiation to break apart chemical molecules in this rocky planet-forming zone. Webb’s detection of rocky planet building blocks, including water & carbon dioxide, suggests such planets may be able to form in more extreme conditions than we thought.” Underneath that is a graph of brightness on the y-axis versus wavelength of light in microns on the x-axis. A key shows that model data are plotted in purple and Webb data are plotted in white. Both the model and data form jagged lines with peaks and valleys. Four sets of peaks are highlighted and labeled. (1) Acetylene, highlighted in green; centered around 13.7 microns. (2) Hydrogen Cyanide, brown; 14.0 microns. (3) Water, blue; 14.2 microns. (4) Carbon Dioxide, bright red; 14.95 microns.
Credits: 1. ESO; 2. NASA, ESA, CSA, María Claudia Ramírez-Tannus (MPIA), Joseph Olmsted (STScI)
Catch a whiff of this 💨
Webb made a definitive detection of methane gas in the atmosphere of “warm Jupiter” WASP-80 b. Like the name suggests, the planet is similar in size to Jupiter, but with much warmer temperatures.
At 163 light-years away, WASP-80 b is far from us. But it orbits very close to its parent star, with a year of only 3 Earth-days!
To study the planet’s atmosphere, Webb observed how the combined light from the star and the planet was affected as WASP-80 b moved in front of and behind its star. The science team then created spectra, or measurements of how much light was blocked or emitted by the planet's atmosphere at different wavelengths. These measurements inform scientists of the chemical composition of the exoplanet, as well as what that tells us about the planet’s birth, growth and evolution.
Hear directly from the researchers about their discovery at the Webb blog link in our bio.
1. Illustration of a cloudy, striped purple planet on a dark starry background. Two lines connect from the planet to a circle filled with methane molecules. Text on graphic: “Webb Detects Methane in a Distant Planet’s Atmosphere.”
2. Graphic titled “Atmospheric Composition, WASP-80 b. Data from Webb’s NIRCam instrument.” Next is a short blurb: “Webb observed the warm gas giant exoplanet WASP-80 b using two different methods. Its spectra (below) shows a clear detection of methane gas throughout the planet’s atmosphere.” Then there are two graphs. The first graph generally slopes down, while the second graph slopes up. Their data were taken using the transit method for the top graph and the eclipse method for the bottom graph. The x-axis for both is labeled “Wavelength of light (microns).” It runs from 2.4 to 4.0 microns in increments of 0.2. The y-axis for the transit graph is labeled “Amount of starlight blocked,” and it runs from 2.88% to 3.00%. The eclipse graph’s y-axis is “Amount of planetary light emitted” and goes from 0.00% to 0.12%. Both graphs are plotted with white dots that have error bars running through them. There are clear signatures of water vapor (highlighted in green) and methane (highlighted in purple).
15 years ago, Spitzer saw unusual readings of neon III in a young counterpart of our solar system. Now Webb has discovered the abnormal neon III has all but disappeared. What does this mean?
Spitzer and Webb both observed the disk of planet-forming material surrounding the Sun-like star SZ Cha. High-energy radiation — typically X-rays — can eat away at such disks and limit the time planets have to form.
Scientists use neon as an indicator of how much and what type of radiation is hitting these disks. Spitzer’s 2008 readings of SZ Cha detected neon III, which suggested the radiation was by ultraviolet (UV) light. But Webb found only traces of the neon III signature, indicating X-ray radiation instead.
Scientists theorize an on-and-off wind may have absorbed UV light, leaving X-rays to hit the disk. Winds are common in a young planetary system, and perhaps Spitzer caught it during a wind-free period. It may be that young systems, including our early solar system, regularly switch between phases of UV and X-ray radiation.
The team is already planning more observations of SZ Cha with Webb & other telescopes. More at our link in bio!
ID: 1. Graphic titled “New Webb Findings Hold Clues for the Story of Our Solar System.” Background illustration shows a spinning disk around a bright star.
2. Graphic titled “Neon Gas in Planet-Forming Disk, data from Webb’s MIRI instrument.” Text reads: “In 2008, Spitzer found unusual readings of neon III in a young counterpart of our solar system: Sun-like star SZ Cha and its surrounding planet-forming disk. 15 years later, Webb could only find traces of that neon III signature. Unraveling this mystery may give us new insights into our early solar system.” Graph below compares 2 squiggly lines, a yellow line representing Webb 2023 data and a white line representing Spitzer 2008 data. A green column labeled “Neon, NE Roman numeral two” highlights a tall vertical spike in both lines. Further on the x-axis, a purple column labeled “Neon, NE Roman numeral three” highlights a shorter but still distinct spike in the Spitzer line, which is contrasted with a tiny peak in the Webb line.
Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Ralf Crawford (STScI)
#ICYMI : @nasachandraxray and Webb recently teamed up to discover a record-breaking supermassive black hole.
Webb’s infrared eye helped detect the black hole’s host galaxy, while Chandra’s X-ray detections helped confirm the existence of the black hole. This galaxy, UHZ1, is 13.2 billion light-years away, seen when the universe was only 3% of its current age. Learn more at our link in bio!
Image Credit - X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/Ákos Bogdán; Infrared: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/L. Frattare & K. Arcand
Descriptions: 1. Chandra and Webb composite featuring scores of seemingly tiny celestial objects in a sea of black. This is galaxy cluster Abell 2744. When magnified, the tiny white, orange, and purple objects are revealed to be galaxies and stars. Many appear to float in a neon purple cloud of X-ray gas in the center of the image. Just to the right of center, at the edge of the purple cloud, is a tiny orange speck. This speck is far in the distance, well beyond the galaxy cluster. It's a galaxy containing a supermassive black hole.
2. Annotated version of the first image. A box outlines the tiny orange speck to the right of the purple cloud. Two enlargements are inset at our upper left. In the left inset, showing Chandra data, there is a hazy, purple oval with a light pink core. This purple oval represents intense X-rays from a growing supermassive black hole, and is labeled "Black Hole." In the right inset, showing Webb data, the tiny orange speck is labeled as "Black Hole Host Galaxy."
@NASAHubble and @NASAWebb joined forces for one of the most colorful views of our universe – ever.
This is a galaxy cluster called MACS0416, located a whopping 4.3 billion light-years away.
We can learn more about galaxy distances through the image's colors. Bluer colored galaxies are relatively nearby and often show intense star formation, which is best observed by Hubble, while the redder galaxies tend to be more distant, or else contain a lot of dust, as detected by Webb.
The stunning details and information here are only possible by combining the power of both space telescopes, with Hubble's visible-light data and Webb's infrared observations.
Find out more about MACS0416 at the link in our bio!
Image description: A field of galaxies on the black background of space. In the middle, stretching from left to right, is a collection of dozens of yellowish spiral and elliptical galaxies that form a foreground galaxy cluster. They form a rough, flat line along the center. Among them are distorted linear features, which mostly appear to follow invisible concentric circles curving around the center of the image. The linear features are created when the light of a background galaxy is bent and magnified through gravitational lensing. At center left, a particularly prominent example stretches vertically about three times the length of a nearby galaxy. A variety of brightly colored, red and blue galaxies of various shapes are scattered across the image, making it feel densely populated. Near the center are two tiny galaxies compared to the galaxy cluster: a very red edge-on spiral and a very blue face-on spiral, which provide a striking color contrast.
Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Jose M. Diego (IFCA), Jordan C. J. D'Silva (UWA), Anton M. Koekemoer (STScI), Jake Summers (ASU), Rogier Windhorst (ASU), Haojing Yan (University of Missouri)
A breakthrough discovery!
Baby stars are surrounded by disks of material. Scientists have long theorized that icy pebbles drift from the outer to the inner regions of a disk, delivering water and solids that then form planets. New data from Webb demonstrates this process in action.
Researchers used Webb’s MIRI instrument to study 2 compact disks and 2 extended disks (with wider gaps and rings) around Sun-like stars. All four of the disks’ stars are estimated to be between 2-3 million years old, considered “newborns” in cosmic time.
Pebbles were expected to go through compact disks more efficiently, allowing for greater delivery of water and solids to inner planets. Webb’s results confirmed these expectations by revealing excess cool water in the compact disks, compared with the larger disks. Read more at our link in bio.
1. Animation depicting a swirling disk of gas and dust, with a young star represented as a bright dot at its center. The disk is marked by rings in various shades of orange, with colors generally being brighter closer to the core. Overlaid text reads: “Webb Telescope Makes Breakthrough Discovery on How Planets Form.”
2. Text reads: “Newborn stars are surrounded by disks of material. Scientists theorized that icy pebbles drift from the outer to the inner regions of a disk, delivering water and solids that ultimately form planets. Webb studied both small, compact disks and larger, extended disks — revealing this process in action.” The bottom of this graphic features illustrations of two types of planet-forming disks around newborn, Sun-like stars. On the left is a small, compact disk. It appears unbroken by rings or gaps. On the right is a large extended disk, featuring two thick mottled orange rings surrounded by two dark gaps. Both illustrations have a bright yellow core indicating a new star. This yellow core is surrounded by a swirling, orange disk.
Visuals: 1. @NASAGoddard , the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, A. Boley, A. Kritsuk and M. Norman 2. NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)
No tricks, just treats. 🎃
Treat yourself to the bewitching sight of M83! The barred spiral galaxy comes alive with detail in this new image by the Webb telescope’s MIRI instrument.
As you slide through, look closer at the creeping tendrils of gas, dust and stars. Bright blue dots show the distribution of stars, concentrated at the core of the galaxy. Meanwhile, patches of yellow indicate where new stars are forming. Learn more about this image and Webb’s NIRCam instrument view of the same region at esawebb.org/images/potm.
Image description: Set of four images that form a close-up of a barred spiral galaxy. Two spiral arms reach horizontally away from the white-yellow center of the galaxy, merging into a broad network of gas and dust filling the image. This fiery material glows brightest orange along the path of the arms, and is darker red across the rest of the galaxy. Through many gaps in the dust, countless tiny stars can be seen in blue, most densely around the core.
Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, A. Adamo (Stockholm University) and the FEAST JWST team
Is this the Krusty Krab? No, this is the Crab Nebula. 🦀
6,500 light-years away lies the Crab Nebula, the remains of an exploded star. While this target has been well-studied by multiple observatories, including @NASAHubble , Webb’s infrared sensitivity and resolution offer new clues into the makeup and origins of this nebula.
Learn more at the link in our bio.
Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, T. Temim (Princeton University)
Image Description: The Crab Nebula, an oval nebula with complex structure against a black background. On the nebula’s exterior, particularly at the top left and bottom left, lie curtains of glowing red and orange fluffy material. Its interior shell shows large-scale loops of mottled filaments of yellow-white and green, studded with clumps and knots. Translucent thin ribbons of smoky white lie within the remnant’s interior, brightest toward its center. The white material follows different directions throughout, including sometimes sharply curving away from certain regions within the remnant. A faint, wispy ring of white material encircles the very center of the nebula. Around and within the supernova remnant are many points of blue, red, and yellow light.
More on each @NASAWebb image ⬇️
1. Phantom Galaxy 👻 Boo! Gray, web-like filaments form a spiral pattern around this galaxy’s blue core, a region where young stars are forming.
2. Pillars of Creation 🧟
Seen against an orange-red backdrop, three ancient pillars of gray-blue gas and dust reach out like the fingers of an eerie hand. This view of this famous target was taken by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument and spotlights interstellar dust.
3. NGC 346 🐦⬛
Ghostly arcs of blue material appear to form the shape of a raven in this mid-infrared image of NGC 346. Here, the blue tendrils represent silicates and sooty chemical molecules while the red glow represents warm dust heated by bright, massive stars.
4. Ring Nebula 👁️
The Ring Nebula stares back. Webb reveals the complexity of this nebula’s structure in unprecedented detail: Its blue and green inner cavity appears like the pupil of an eye. This central region transitions into shades of orange and pink at the outer edges.
5. Tarantula Nebula 🕷️
Never-before-seen young stars dwell in the Tarantula Nebula’s web. Fluffy tan-colored clouds, with rust-colored highlights, surround a black central area. Within it is a large, eight-pointed yellow star. To its right is a bright star cluster resembling tiny pale blue sparkles.
6. NGC 6822 🧙♀️
The greenish yellow clouds of gas and dust within NGC 6822 bring to mind a bubbling witch’s brew. Littered across the scene are stars, densely filling every crevice.
Video Description: Animated slideshow of 6 Halloween-themed Webb Telescope images. Introduction text reads: “Think you know your BFF? Which space image are they choosing* (*Halloween edition)”
Music: “Aquarium Lofi - Instrumental” by Camille Charles Saint Saens and Nathaniel Reeves. Provided by Universal Production Music.
Three explosions, two stars, and a rare discovery.
Webb recently detected tellurium, an element rarer than platinum on Earth, in the explosive aftermath of two neutron stars merging.
Swipe through to see where it all began. The pair were once two stars tied together by gravity in a distant spiral galaxy. First one star, then the other exploded. As their cores collapsed into dense remnants, they became neutron stars. These two explosions would launch the pair out of their home galaxy — 120,000 light-years away. Several hundred million years later, the neutron stars violently merged, triggering both a gamma-ray burst and a kilonova.
Gamma-ray bursts are extremely bright, short blasts of the most energetic form of light. This gamma-ray burst, GRB 230307A, was first detected by the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope in March 2023. It’s the second brightest gamma-ray burst ever observed!
Accompanying the gamma-ray burst was a kilonova emitting optical and infrared light. A team of telescopes, including NASA’s Swift Observatory, helped identify the kilonova from the ground and from space. With its highly sensitive infrared eye, Webb helped scientists find out the home galaxy of the two neutron stars.
Kilonovas were long thought to create many of the heavier elements we're familiar with, like gold in our jewelry or iodine in our blood. Webb shows a clear detection of tellurium in its data — the first time a heavy element has been detected from a kilonova. With this discovery, astronomers believe Webb can find even more kilonovas and evidence of neutron star mergers creating heavy elements. More at our link in bio!
ID: These two images make up a larger picture of bright galaxies and other light sources scattered across the blackness of space. There are small points, hazy elliptical-like smudges with halos, and spiral-shaped blobs. The objects vary in color: white, blue-white, yellow-white, and orange-red. In the first image is a small red point with a white circle around it, labeled “GRB 230307A kilonova.” In the second image is a blue-white spiral galaxy seen face-on that is larger than other light sources. It is labeled “former home galaxy.”
Jupiter’s fly like a jet stream high above the whole scene ♪
Webb has discovered a 3000-mi (4800-km) wide jet stream over Jupiter’s equator, above the main cloud decks.
This newly discovered Jovian jet stream travels at 320 miles per hour, 2 times the winds of a Category 5 hurricane on Earth! It’s located around 25 miles (40 kilometers) in altitude, in Jupiter’s lower stratosphere. Other missions have looked at Jupiter’s atmosphere and detected the lower, deeper layers, where there are gigantic storms and ammonia ice clouds. Webb’s sensitive near-infrared eye reveals new detail in the higher-altitude layers, 15-30 mi (25-50 km) above the cloud tops.
Combining recent @NASAHubble and Webb observations allows scientists to measure how fast Jupiter’s winds change with altitude. The two telescopes’ different wavelengths also revealed the 3D structure of storm clouds on Jupiter, plus how rapidly storms develop.
Jupiter has a complex, repeating pattern of winds and temperatures in its stratosphere. Scientists are excited to see how this jet stream will vary in speed and altitude over the next few years, and if it may be connected to Jupiter’s oscillating stratospheric patterns. Read more at the link in our bio.
Image Description: Jupiter dominates the black background of space. The image is a composite, and shows Jupiter in enhanced color, featuring the planet’s turbulent Great Red Spot, which appears white here. The planet is striated with swirling horizontal stripes of neon turquoise, periwinkle, light pink, and cream. The stripes interact and mix at their edges like cream in coffee. Along both of the poles, the planet glows in turquoise. Bright orange auroras glow just above the planet’s surface at both poles.
Airy blips, crystal skies: Webb can show you incredible things.
For the first time, scientists found evidence of silicon dioxide (aka silica or quartz) in an exoplanet atmosphere. Webb data shows a surprise bump suggesting quartz nanocrystal clouds on WASP-17 b.
WASP-17 b features temperatures of 2700° F (1500° C) and atmospheric pressure only one-thousandth of Earth’s surface pressure, allowing solid quartz crystals to form directly from gas. While Webb’s MIRI instrument detected the silica particles, @NASAHubble helped scientists figure out the quartz crystals’ size — 10 nanometers across, or one-millionth of a centimeter! This result is a new step toward understanding how exoplanet clouds form and evolve. More at link in bio.
Graphics: NASA, ESA, CSA, Ralf Crawford (STScI). Science: David Grant (University of Bristol), Hannah R. Wakeford (University of Bristol), Nikole Lewis (Cornell University)
1. Illustration of a cloudy planet set against the darkness of space. Text: “Webb Detects Tiny Quartz Crystals in a Planet’s Clouds.”
2. Text: “Webb’s look at exoplanet WASP-17 b has revealed the first evidence of quartz in the clouds of an exoplanet. In this graph, astronomers think the “bump” at 8.6 microns is caused by quartz nanocrystals, one-millionth of a centimeter in size, absorbing starlight passing through the atmosphere.” Graph below shows 28 data points plotted as white circles with vertical error bars. The y-axis is labeled “amount of light blocked” and ranges from 1.45 to 1.65 percent. The x-axis is labeled “wavelength of light (microns)” and ranges from 5 to 12 microns. A jagged purple line is labeled “Model spectrum based on Webb, Hubble, and Spitzer data.” One prominent peak in the data and model is highlighted with a green bar labeled “Light blocked by quartz (SIO2) crystals.” The peak is centered at about 8.6 microns and 1.59 percent. Running across the green band below the purple peak is a dashed yellow line sloping down to the right, labeled “What the spectrum would look like with no quartz clouds.” In the background is a planet illustration.
Quoth the raven “Nevermore.” 🐦⬛
Once upon a midnight dreary, the @NASAWebb telescope captured this haunting view of star-forming region NGC 346 in mid-infrared light. The creepy blue tendrils that make up this “raven” represent dusty silicates and sooty chemical molecules, while the red glow represents warm dust heated by the brightest and most massive stars at the heart of the region. This area is also abundant with baby stars still embedded in their dusty cocoons.
NGC 346 is part of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. It has a composition much closer to that of galaxies from the early universe and possesses fewer heavy elements. Accordingly, scientists did not expect much cosmic dust, which is formed by heavy elements. However, both Webb’s new mid-infrared look at NGC 346 and its past near-infrared view (released Jan. 2023) show plenty of dust! Learn more at @NASAWebb_ !!re!!_039;s link in bio.
1. The lower half of the image contains arcs of bluish material that form a boat-like shape. One end of these arcs points to the top right, while the other end points toward the bottom left. Another plume of blue filaments expands from the center to the top left, resembling the mast of a sailboat. Within and extending beyond the boat shape are translucent curtains of pink, which appear atop the boat shape as and cover most of the image. Stars are scarce. A couple dozen bright pink patches with six short diffraction spikes are scattered within the blue filaments. Many faint blue dots, or stars, also speckle the background, which is black or dark gray.
2. The same image, but with an overlay of a bird shape on top of the blue filaments. The arcs of blue material in the lower half form the bird’s torso, as well as its head and beak in the bottom left corner. The arc that ends in the top right forms what could be the tail or a wing of the bird. The plume that expands from center to top left also resembles a wing.
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Nolan Habel (NASA-JPL). Image Processing: Patrick Kavanagh (Maynooth University)
Two space telescopes walk into a bar…
Barred galaxy NGC 5068, that is! The bright white bar in both images here is a dense region of mature stars. Webb's near-infrared image is part of a science campaign to learn more about star formation in the gaseous regions of nearby galaxies. Meanwhile, Hubble works in tandem with Webb, providing a unique view in ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared light.
#ICYMI , @NASAHubble is going all in on galaxies this week. Check back in with them tomorrow for the final image in their galactic series!
1. Webb’s near-infrared image of barred spiral galaxy NGC 5068, showing its core and part of a spiral arm. Thousands upon thousands of tiny stars, seen as white specks, pack the frame. The stars are most dense in a whitish bar that forms the core, seen in the top left quadrant, and less dense moving out from there towards the arm. Gas clouds, represented in bright red, follow the twist of the galaxy and the spiral arm.
2. Hubble's multi-wavelength view of galaxy NGC 5068. Splotches of bright-pink and blue-white fill the lower half of the image. A bright bar of white stars extends downward from top-center toward the left. Random areas of dusty clouds form dark streams against the bright backdrop.
Credits: 1. ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team. 2. NASA, ESA, R. Chandar (University of Toledo), and J. Lee (Space Telescope Science Institute). Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)
#ICYMI : Webb discovered carbon dioxide & methane in the atmosphere of planet K2-18 b.
Based on the Webb data, the planet’s chemical make-up hints at the theory that this planet may have a water ocean underneath a hydrogen-rich atmosphere. However, more evidence is needed before scientists can determine if the planet could support life.
Reel producer: BriAna Alvarado, NASA GSFC
Opening illustration of K2-18 b & graph: NASA, ESA, CSA, R. Crawford (STScI), Joseph Olmsted (STScI), science by Nikku Madhusudhan (IoA)
Other general exoplanet animations: @nasagoddard
Music: “Life in Their Hands,” Paul Richard O’ Brien, Nova Production Music
00:00-00:05 Illustration of K2-18 b seen as a large blue planet, with the tiny gray crescent of a different planet in the distance. Text on screen: “Recently, Webb discovered carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere of exoplanet K2-18 b.”
00:05-00:12 Animation of a generic blue planet against the blackness of space, with starlight streaming in from the left. Text: “Situated 120 light-years away from Earth, K2-18 b is in the distant constellation Leo.”
00:12-00:24 Animated zoom-in on a generic blue planet seemingly covered in ice patches. Text: “Webb observations hint at the potential for this exoplanet to have a hydrogen-rich atmosphere and an ocean surface.”
00:24-00:36 Video slowly pans over a graph showing the atmospheric composition of K2-18 b based on Webb data. There are highlighted signatures of carbon dioxide and methane. Text: “Despite its carbon-bearing molecules and orbit within the habitable zone, it is unknown whether K2-18 b can support life.”
00:36-00:45 Animation of a generic brown exoplanet flying into view, set against a dark, starry background. Text: “The planet may have a hostile environment due to its active star. Its ocean may also be too hot to be in a liquid state.”
00:45-00:58 Animation of a generic cloudy blue planet. To its left are small spheres representing its distant red glowing star and another planet in the system. Text: “The research team plans to use Webb to look for additional evidence of biological activity.”
Starry starry night ✨
Slide through to see the bigger picture. Webb’s near-infrared eye sees through dust and gas, laying bare irregular galaxy NGC 6822’s stars. See that bright, bluish orb in the second image? That’s actually a star-packed globular cluster.
Because Webb sees in colors invisible to the human eye, its infrared imagery has to be “translated” to the visible spectrum we can see. Here, the brightest stars have been assigned pale blue and cyan colors, corresponding to shorter wavelengths of light (red and near-infrared light). Meanwhile, fainter stars have been assigned warmer colors, corresponding to longer wavelengths of light (mid-infrared light).
To see the full image and learn more, go to esawebb.org/images/potm. Head to our Instagram Story to set this as your wallpaper!
Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, M. Meixner
Image Description: This set of images makes up a huge, dense field completely filled with tiny stars. Many galaxies of various shapes and sizes can be seen hiding behind the stars. In the third image, there is some faint, wispy, dark red gas. A few of the stars imaged are a bit larger than the rest, with visible diffraction spikes. Two particularly prominent foreground stars can be found in the fifth image.
Europa: Hoth or not?
On the icy crust of Jupiter's moon Europa, @NASAWebb has discovered carbon dioxide that likely originated in the liquid water ocean below. The carbon dioxide was found to be most abundant in an area called Tara Regio, where there is evidence of material exchanging between Europa’s internal ocean and its crust. Carbon dioxide isn’t stable on Europa’s surface, so scientists believe it was deposited fairly recently, geologically speaking. Understanding the chemistry of this ocean could help determine if it is a good place for life as we know it.
Webb builds off Juno, Galileo, New Horizons and other spacecraft who have taken close-ups of Europa. In Oct. 2024, NASA plans to launch the Europa Clipper mission, which will perform dozens of close flybys of Europa to further investigate if it could have conditions for life.
More on each image:
1. An image by the #JunoMission spacecraft, taken in Sept. 2022. It shows more than three-quarters of a tan sphere marked with brown scar-like lines all over its surface. The bottom of the sphere fades into the black background.
2. Taken by @NASAWebb , this image shows Europa as a fuzzy blue and white sphere. There are darker blue patches in most of the northern hemisphere, as well as two distinct white patches along the southern hemisphere. Note that Europa appears hazy because it is very small compared to its distance from us (390.4 million miles, or 628.3 million km!). Missions like Voyager and Juno get up close to the bodies they are observing, giving them a high-resolution view.
3. Three compositional maps derived from Webb’s NIRSpec instrument data. These pixelated, circular maps each feature white, blue, or orange squares of various shades. The white pixels represent carbon dioxide ice. The pixelation is due to Europa being 10x10 pixels across the field of view, but there’s amazing data—a full NIRSpec spectrum—in each pixel!
Juno - NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing: Kevin M. Gill
Webb - NASA, ESA, CSA, Geronimo Villanueva (NASA-GSFC), Samantha K Trumbo (Cornell University. Image processing: Geronimo Villanueva, Alyssa Pagan (STScI)
If we could take a baby picture of our Sun, it might look something like this. 👶
Seen in this @NASAWebb image is a newborn star with supersonic jets of gas spewing from its poles. It’s only a few tens of thousands of years old here, but when it grows up, it’ll be much like our Sun.
Bright regions around newborn stars, as seen here, are called Herbig-Haro objects. This specific Herbig-Haro object is called Herbig-Haro (HH) 211. At roughly 1,000 light-years away from Earth, it’s one of the youngest and nearest objects of its type.
Herbig-Haro objects are created when jets of gas from these newborn stars form shockwaves as they collide with surrounding gas and dust. Webb’s sensitive infrared vision can pierce through the gas and dust, picking up on the heat emissions from the star’s outflows and mapping out structure in unprecedented detail. Interestingly, Webb observations have also shown that the outflows from this object are slower in comparison to that of more developed baby stars. More at @NASAWebb ’s link in bio!
Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, T. Ray (Dublin)
Image description: At the center is a thin horizontal pinkish cloud known as Herbig-Haro 211 that is uneven with rounded ends, and tilted from bottom left to top right. It takes up about two-thirds of the length of this angle, but is thinner and longer at the opposite angle. At its center is a dark spot. On either side of the dark spot, there are orangish yellow wisps that extend to light blue wisps. Within the center of those clouds, a pink fluffy streak runs through each lobe. At the ends of each lobe, pink becomes the dominant color. The lobe to the left is fatter. The right lobe is thinner, and ends in a smaller pink semi-circle. Just off the edge of this lobe is a slightly smaller pink semicircle, then a pink sponge-like blog. The background contains several bright stars, each with eight diffraction spikes extending out from the central bright point.