This image from the James Webb Space Telescope depicts M74, otherwise known as the Phantom Galaxy. Webb's clear vision has revealed delicate filaments of gas and dust in the grandiose spiral arms which wind outwards from the center of this image. A lack of gas in the nuclear region also provides an unobscured view of the nuclear star cluster at the galaxy's center.
Incredible new images of the Phantom Galaxy, M74, demonstrate the versatility of space observatories working together in many wavelengths. In this case, data from the James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope complement each other to provide a comprehensive view of the galaxy.
The Phantom Galaxy is situated about 32 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Pisces. It is almost face-on to Earth, due to its well-defined spiral arms, which make it a popular target for astronomers interested in the origin and structure of galactic spirals.
New photographs of the Phantom Galaxy, M74, show the power of space observatories working together in many wavelengths. The Hubble Space Telescope's image is strikingly different, instead highlighting the massive gas and dust masses within the galaxy's arms and the dense cluster of stars at its core.
M74 is a particular spiral galaxy known as a 'grand design spiral.' This means that its spiral arms are prominent and well-defined, unlike some spiral galaxies' patchy and ragged structure.
Webb's sharp vision has revealed delicate gas and dust filaments in the grandiose spiral arms of M74, which wind outwards from the center of the image. A lack of gas in the nuclear region also provides an unobscured view of the nuclear star cluster at the galaxy's center.
The M74 galaxy is illuminated at its brightest in this combined optical/mid-infrared image, which includes data from both the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope. The darker colors indicate the hotter dust regions, while darker oranges indicate the faint glow along the stars.
Webb visited M74 using the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) in order to observe the early stages of star formation in the local Universe. These observations are part of a larger effort by the international PHANGS collaboration to identify 19 nearby star-forming galaxies in the infrared.
Increasing the frequency of crystal-clear Webb observations at longer wavelengths will enable astronomers to detect star-forming areas in the galaxies, accurately measure the masses and ages of star clusters, and understand the origin of tiny grains of dust that are drifting in interstellar space.
The Phantom Galaxy is shown in this image from the James Webb Space Telescope. The sharp and sharp vision revealed delicate filaments of gas and dust in the grandiose spiral arms that extend outwards from the center of the image. A lack of gas in the nuclear region also provides an unobscured view of the nuclear star cluster at the galaxy's center.
M74 observations by Hubble have revealed unusually bright areas of star formation known as HII regions. Hubble's superb vision at ultraviolet and visible wavelengths complements Webb's unparalleled sensitivity at infrared wavelengths, as do observations from ground-based radio telescopes such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, ALMA.
Scientists may obtain greater insight into astronomical objects by combining data from multiple telescopes that operate across the electromagnetic spectrum than by using a single observatory — even one that is as powerful as Webb!
New photographs of the Phantom Galaxy, M74, highlight the versatility of space observatories working together in many wavelengths. On the left, the Hubble Space Telescope's view of the galaxy is strikingly different, instead highlighting the massive amounts of gas and dust within the galaxy's arms and the dense cluster of stars at its core.ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team; J. Schmidt, Jr.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's premier space science observatory. Webb will investigate the world's mysteries, look beyond to other stellar worlds, and investigate our own bodies and our place in the Universe. ESA's major contributions to the mission are: the NIRSpec instrument; the MIRI instrument optical bench assembly; personnel to support mission operations.
This combined optical/mid-infrared image from the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope shows off a wide spectrum of stellar features. Red colors indicate dust threading through the galaxy's arms, while lighter oranges indicate hotter dust. The Phantom Galaxy's core is shown in cyan and green, revealing a haunting glow.
MIRI was contributed by ESA and NASA, with the instrument being designed and built by a group of nationally funded European Institutes (the MIRI European Consortium) in partnership with JPL and the University of Arizona.