HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FIRST MONTH OF SCIENCE by James Webb

Historically, our finest views of deep space came from Hubble.

The Cartwheel Galaxy, shown at right, is a stunning example of an imperfect ring galaxy, in which a central core of old stars and a bright ring of young stars are connected by a thin bridge of gas and stars throughout. The cause of this ring, an intervening galaxy smashed by the chariot wheel, is in the upper left of the image, and itself forms new stars as a result of the interaction.

(Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

But as of July 2022, a superior space telescope has emerged.

This near-infrared image from JWST shows a variety of features in the Cartwheel Galaxy and its companions that can’t be detected by Hubble. Hubble’s smaller size, lower resolution, warmer temperatures, and inferior hardware ensure that JWST’s unique capabilities will reveal features in almost any object never seen before.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) takes us further than anything else has seen.

This image contains data from 10 different JWST filters: 6 near-infrared and 4 in mid-infrared. As a result, features that include stars, gas, dust, and different molecular signatures can be detected simultaneously, showing where star formation has occurred and will occur in the future, among many other features.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

Nearby, Jupiter appears like never before.

This three-filter display of Jupiter from JWST’s NIRCam features a 3.6-micron (red) channel, a 2.12-micron (yellow-green) channel, and a 1.5-micron (blue) channel. All of these wavelengths are aligned as best as possible due to the planet’s rotation, and then configured to reveal the unusual features we see here.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Jupiter ERS Team; Processing: J. Schmidt)

Its bands, rings, aurora, and moons appear alongside background galaxies.

This animation shows JWST’s unique near-infrared views of Jupiter. In addition to the bands, the Great Red Spot, and the visible “atmospheric fog” at the day/night limit of Jupiter, a number of lunar, ring and aurora features are seen and marked. Note that far from the planet, many faint “smudges” can be seen: these are distant background galaxies, rarely seen in the same frame as a bright planet-like object, but JWST’s superior optics can detect them.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Jupiter ERS Team; Processing: R. Hueso (UPV/EHU) & J. Schmidt)

JWST saw the exoplanets live using infrared imaging.

Around the star HIP 65426, obscured by JWST as being of high contrast, a gas giant exoplanet has been detected orbiting around it. By combining two near-infrared and two mid-infrared filters, we can detect this planet, which is 10,000 times fainter than the star it orbits.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Alyssa Pagan (STScI); Science: Aarynn Carter (UCSC), ERS 1386 Team))

Spectroscopically, transits detect the absorbed light

The transiting exoplanets do not block out the same portion of the star’s light at all different wavelengths, but rather different fractions are absorbed and transmitted in a wavelength-dependent manner. Just as Earth’s atmosphere preferentially transmits red light but scatters blue light, exoplanet WASP-39b allows different portions of light through its atmosphere in a wavelength-dependent manner that JWST can detect.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Leah Hustak (STScI), Joseph Olmsted (STScI))

Transmitted Light: Revealing Molecular Existence.

With its first science release, JWST revealed the presence of water, spectroscopically, in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. By its measurement of WASP-39b, it revealed an abundant presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. Undoubtedly, more molecules at different concentrations will be found around a variety of worlds using JWST.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Leah Hustak (STScI), Joseph Olmsted (STScI))

Star-forming nebulae display unprecedented detail.

The near-infrared view of the Tarantula Nebula taken with JWST is higher in resolution and wider in wavelength coverage than any previous view. Expanding on what Hubble has taught us, we can now study star formation without our local group in greater detail than ever before.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

From the new young blue stars,

The central focus of the Tarantula Cluster at the core of the Tarantula Nebula is known as R136, and contains many of the most massive stars known. Among them is R136a1, which comes in at about 260 solar masses, making it the heaviest known star. Finally, this is the largest star-forming region within our Local Group, potentially forming hundreds of thousands of new stars.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

to invasive features,

As JWST spectroscopy reveals, chemicals such as atomic hydrogen, molecular hydrogen, and hydrocarbons occupy different positions in space within the Tarantula Nebula, showing just how diverse even a single star-forming region can be.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

JWST shows what Hubble can’t.

This animation shows the transition between the JWST’s near-infrared views, which show new stars and light-absorbing dust, versus the mid-infrared view, where the warm dust is shining and the stars are practically invisible. These views take us far beyond what Hubble was able to see, and into a realm of wavelength and precision that we have not entered before.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

In the meantime, the JWST initial alignment picture has grown astoundingly.

The diffraction heights of JWST, seen in great detail around the star 2MASS J17554042 + 6551277, are the same as those seen in the first successful alignment image. Scientific data, as evidenced by the glorious details of background galaxies, is being used now after a long time.

(Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI)

Now with a 140+ megapixel display, it broadly reveals distant galaxies.

This seemingly small image is a scaled down version of the full 140MP full field of view that was comprehensively checked after JWST alignment and fully calibrated. The bright star in the lower left of the image is the famous “alignment star” from the first JWST aligned image.

(Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI)

Only 1% of this offer contains about 100 recognizable items.

This is a full-resolution view of only 1% of the field used to capture the 2MASS star J17554042 + 6551277, which was responsible for being the first alignment target for JWST. About 100 galaxies were detected here, indicating that about 10,000 galaxies should be present and visible to JWST across the full field of view of the full image.

(Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI)

Huge, sophisticated, and complex galactic shapes appear at all observed distances.

Early results from GLASS Early Release Science revealed more than 200 sources covering a variety of ranges in redshift and mass. This helps teach us the shapes that galaxies take over a range of blocks and phases in cosmic time/evolution, revealing a number of very massive, very early, and apparently very sophisticated galaxies.

(Credit: C. Jacobs, K. Glazebrook et al., arXiv: 2208.06516, 2022)

In addition, the galactic disk candidates appeared all of a sudden in very early times.

The Cosmic Evolution Early Release Scientific Survey (CEERS Survey) broke the record for the largest deep-field image captured by JWST, previously held by the first released lens array image. This small patch of sky, near the Big Dipper’s handle, contains about 200 luminous disk candidate galaxies found during the first 3 billion years of the universe’s history. This is surprisingly early, but it could hold many lessons about the formation and evolution of galaxies.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI; CEERS Collaboration)

JWST also saw the farthest star ever: Earendel.

This view of Earendel, the most distant star currently known, comes courtesy of JWST. With 8 NIRCam filters after observing this star, we were able to determine that it was likely a single star, about 1,000,000 times as bright as the Sun, with surface temperatures of about 15,000 K and a lens magnification of at least a factor of 4,000. Follow-up observations will be taken. , including Spectra, later in 2022.

(Credit: B. Welch & D. Coe et al., arXiv: 2208.09007, 2022)

But arguably its greatest images are of individual galaxies.

Spiral galaxy NGC 7496, seen previously by the Hubble telescope, shows an impressive amount of luminous dust lanes, copious amounts of feedback from new stars and the early stages of star formation across the galaxy in bloody detail. With JWST, we see the universe in detail like never before.

(attributed to him: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and PHANGS team; Acknowledgments: Judy Schmidt and Janice Lee)

JWST views reveal Gas, dust and starsand more.

This view of gas, dust, stars, and more in NGC 1365 comes to us with permission from JWST and the PHANGS team, which is working to investigate the detailed properties of dust-rich star-forming galaxies. Images like these help us understand how and where stars form over the course of a galaxy’s life.

(attributed to him: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and PHANGS team; Acknowledgments: Judy Schmidt)

The central cores containing the black hole glow in mid-infrared light.

The mid-infrared view (MIRI) of bright infrared galaxy VV 114, shown alongside the older Hubble view, reveals a fascinating nucleus in the eastern part as well as a western component rich in young star clusters. An active galactic nucleus has been detected in the southwestern part of the eastern region, along with about 40 star-forming nodes, ~10 of which have no optical counterpart. The presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons has also been observed.

(Credit: AS Evans et al., arXiv: 2208.14507v1, 2022)

The bridges of star-forming gas between interacting galaxies appear.

Galaxy IC 1623B, viewed in a variety of near-infrared filters using JWST, reveals details about the interstellar medium between two active, interacting, star-forming galaxies. These NIRCam images represent only a portion of the total data, which will include the NIRSpec and MIRI images, which will be taken out of respect for this galaxy.

(Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI, Lee Armas et al.; Processing: R. Colombari)

from Hubble

This view of the Phantom Galaxy, also known as Messier 74 / NGC 628, combines Hubble’s blue, visible, and near-infrared images, along with a specific hydrogen emission line to create this composite. While this was previously our best view of the Phantom Galaxy, and revealed many interesting features, JWST reviews have already revealed much more about it.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration; Acknowledgments: R. Chandar (University of Toledo) and J. Miller (University of Michigan))

For JWST near-infrared eyes,

This pure infrared image of the Phantom Galaxy, Messier 74, shows cooler stars and the intricate dust structures found in the lining and between the galaxy’s spiral arms. These structures have only been alluded to in earlier views; JWST’s unique abilities are revealed for the first time.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI; Processing: Robert Eder)

To the scary and unfamiliar infrared landscapes,

This mid-infrared view captured with JWST shows the ghostly galaxy (M74) with prominent, well-defined spiral arms. Finally, the PHANGS collaboration will study 19 nearby star-forming galaxies to better understand how and when star formation is triggered, and measure the masses and ages of star clusters within this process.

(Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team; Acknowledgments: J. Schmidt)

The universe came into focus like never before under Webb’s watchful eyes.

This three-panel animation shows three different views of the center of the Phantom Galaxy, M74 (NGC 628). The familiar color image is Hubble’s (optical) view, the second panel shows near-infrared views of both Hubble and the Webb, and the mid-infrared panel shows the warm dust that will eventually form new stars later, and contains data from JWST alone.

(Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team; ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Chandar; Acknowledgment: J. Schmidt; Animation: E. Siegel)

Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story with pictures, visuals, and no more than 200 words. taciturn; smile more.

Leave a Comment