it’s the chaos of the wheel galaxy

the space telescope James Webb continue to produce amazing pictures. Now their instruments have peered into the chaos of the Cartwheel galaxy, revealing new details about star formation and black holes. This particular galaxy does not appear alone. Webb’s powerful infrared gaze took a detailed snapshot of wagon wheel, but also of two smaller companion galaxies against a backdrop of many other galaxies.

The snapshot, which also reveals the behavior of the black hole in the galactic center of the galaxy, provides a new view of how it has changed over billions of years, recall the American NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) in separate press releases. The Cartwheel galaxy, located about 500 million light years in the constellation of the Sculptor, it is a rare sight.

Its appearance, very similar to that of a cartwheel, is the result of an intense event: a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller one, not visible in this image. Collisions of galactic proportions always cause a cascade of different and smaller events between the galaxies involved; The cartwheel is no exception. The collision mainly affected its shape and structure.

This galaxy has two rings, a bright interior and a colorful surrounding. These extend outward from the center of the collision, like ripples in a pond after a stone has been thrown into it. Because of these distinctive features, astronomers call it a “ring galaxy,” a less common structure than spiral galaxies like the Milky Way. The bright core contains a huge amount of hot dust, and the brightest areas are home to gigantic clusters of young stars.

On the other hand, the outer ring, which has been stretching for about 440 million years, is dominated by the star formation and supernovae. As this ring expands, it penetrates the surrounding gas and triggers star formation. It’s not the first time a telescope has captured an image of this stellar group – Hubble has, for example – but the dramatic galaxy has been shrouded in mystery – perhaps literally, given the amount of dust that obscures sight-they point to NASA and ESA.

The Webb, with its ability to detect infrared light, is now discovering new information about its nature. For example, information collected by the MIRI instrument reveals regions of the galaxy rich in hydrocarbons and other chemical compounds, as well as silicate dust. These regions form a series of spiral rays that essentially form the backbone of the galaxy. These had previously been seen in Hubble observations published in 2018, but they become much more prominent in this Webb image.

Webb’s photo points out that Cartwheel is in a very transitional stage. The galaxy, which was presumably a normal spiral galaxy like the Milky Way before its collision, will continue to transform.

While Webb offers a snapshot of the galaxy’s current state, it also provides insight into what happened to this galaxy in the past and how it will evolve into the future.

The collaboration of NASA, ESA and the Canadian CSA made possible the James Webb, which also has Spanish participation and whose first image was known on July 11.

Shawn Jacobs

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