James Webb Telescope Reveals Intricate Networks of Gas, Dust in Nearby Galaxies

The famous James Webb Telescope has done a marvelous job capturing the images of the NGC 1433 spiral galaxy filled with arms of young stars which has created visible changes in the clouds of dust and gas around them. This image was taken in a collaboration which was led by almost 100 scientists at Physics At High Angular Resolution in Nearby Galaxies(PHANGS).

James Webb Telescope used its Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI) to capture the images of 19 spiral galaxies for the program PHANGS. MIRI is better than most instruments as it can penetrate and produce an image through gas and dust clouds that are not possible in any other type of imaging method.

The quest to capture the images of young stars growing remained unfulfilled until James Webb Telescope. According to one of the members of PHANGS from Ohio, Adam Leroy, PHANGS used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, Very Large Telescope’s Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer, and The Atacama Large Millimetre or Submillimeter Array at various wavelength positions of ultraviolet, radio, and optic but has never penetrated to see the image of the lifecycle of stars.

MIRI has made it possible for the dust and gas in the interstellar medium to capture the light and reflect it back to the infrared, thus giving the image of young stars on the spiral arms of galaxies. These images have made the researchers of PHANGS really excited as they are coming across unseen details of the galaxy, like glowing cavities of dust and gas bubbles.

Karin Sandstorm of the University of California, also a PHANGS member, gave his opinion too. He said that images that were dark while observing in the Hubble Space Telescope are lit up in this instrument because of infrared. The dust present in the interstellar is absorbing the light from the young stars and reflecting it back on the instrument. In this way, the delicate and detailed network of dust and gas is visible.

These images have deepened the interest of scientists in observing the galaxy in the interstellar medium using MIRI. This James Webb Telescope, along with the MIRI instrument, clicks images of galaxies in a much more defined way than any other telescope. Scientists believe that it will help them to observe the journey of the stars better, starting from how they were born to how they imprint themselves in the interstellar medium.