The Stephan’s Quintet, the Cartwheel Galaxy, the galaxy cluster SMACS J0723.3-7327, and the Carina Nebula were among the first publicly released images from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory had already observed these objects and the new composite images show how these two space-based telescopes complement each other.
In July and August 2022, Webb released images from some of its earliest observations with the newly commissioned telescope.
However, Webb will not pursue its exploration of the Universe on its own. The telescope is designed to work in concert with NASA’s many other telescopes as well as facilities both in space and on the ground.
The new versions of Webb’s first images show the Stephan’s Quintet, the Cartwheel Galaxy, the galaxy cluster SMACS J0723.3-7327, and the Carina Nebula.
They combine the infrared data from Webb with X-rays collected by Chandra, underscoring how the power of any of these telescopes is only enhanced when joined with others.
1. Stephan’s Quintet:
Discovered by the French astronomer Édouard Stephan in 1877, the Stephan’s Quintet is a visual grouping of five galaxies in the constellation of Pegasus.
Four of the five galaxies — NGC 7317, NGC 7318A, NGC 7318B, and NGC 7319 — form a physical association: the Hickson Compact Group 92 (HCG 92).
The fifth and leftmost galaxy, NGC 7320, is well in the foreground compared with the other four. It resides 40 million light-years from Earth, while the other four galaxies are about 290 million light-years away.
The Webb image (red, orange, yellow, green, blue) of the Stephan’s Quintet features never-seen-before details of the results of the interactions between the galaxies, including sweeping tails of gas and bursts of star formation.
The Chandra data (light blue) of this system reveal a shock wave that heats gas to tens of millions of degrees, as one of the galaxies passes through the others at speeds of around 3.2 million km per hour (2 million miles per hour).
The composite image also includes infrared data from NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope (red, green, blue).
2. The Cartwheel Galaxy:
The Cartwheel Galaxy is a lenticular galaxy located 500 million light-years away in the constellation of Sculptor.
Otherwise known as ESO 350-40, IRAS 00352-3359 or LEDA 2248, it has a diameter of 150,000 light-years and a mass of about 3 billion solar masses.
The Cartwheel got its shape from a collision with another smaller galaxy — located outside the field of this image — about 100 million years ago.
When this smaller galaxy punched through the Cartwheel, it triggered star formation that appears around an outer ring and elsewhere throughout the galaxy
X-rays seen by Chandra (blue and purple) come from superheated gas, individual exploded stars, and neutron stars and black holes pulling material from companion stars.
Webb’s infrared view (red, orange, yellow, green, blue) shows the Cartwheel Galaxy plus two smaller companion galaxies — not part of the collision — against a backdrop of many more distant galactic cousins.
3. The galaxy cluster SMACS 0723.3-7327:
SMACS J0723.3-7327, also known as SMACS 0723 or PSZ1 G284.97-23.69, is a massive cluster of galaxies within the southern constellation of Volans.
We’re looking back in time at this cluster as it appeared approximately 4.6 billion years ago.
Its combined mass acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it.
As some of the largest structures in the Universe, galaxy clusters are filled with vast reservoirs of superheated gas that is seen only in X-ray light.
In this image, the Chandra data (blue) reveal gas with temperatures of tens of millions of degrees, possessing a total mass of about 100 trillion times that of the Sun, several times higher than the mass of all the galaxies in the cluster.
Invisible dark matter makes up an even larger fraction of the total mass in the cluster.
4. The Carina Nebula:
The Carina Nebula, also known as NGC 3372 and Caldwell 92, is located 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of Carina.
Discovered in the 1750s by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, the nebula is a dynamic, evolving cloud of thinly spread interstellar gas and dust.
Spanning over 300 light-years, the Carina Nebula is one of the Milky Way Galaxy’s largest star-forming regions and is easily visible to the unaided eye under dark skies.
The Chandra data (pink) reveal over a dozen individual X-ray sources. These are mostly stars located in the outer region of a star cluster in the Carina Nebula with ages between 1 and 2 million years old, which is very young in stellar terms.
Young stars are much brighter in X-rays than old stars, making X-ray studies an ideal way to distinguish stars in the Carina Nebula from the many stars of different ages from our Milky Way Galaxy along our line of sight to the nebula.
The diffuse X-ray emission in the top half of the image likely comes from hot gas from the three hottest, most massive stars in the star cluster. They are all outside the field of view of the Webb image.
The Webb image uses the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, and blue.
Source link: https://www.sci.news/astronomy/chandra-webb-images-11261.html