The James Webb Space Telescope has taken a breathtaking peek inside the Pillars of Creation, a stunning dust cloud formation made famous by its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.
The picture is not only amazingly beautiful, but also reveals cosmic processes that have not been observed before with such clarity. Here’s what astronomers see behind the shimmering and colorful fabric.
If you want to enjoy the charm James Webb Space TelescopePillars of Creation image, you must download the original image from the website of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, which manages the mission’s science operations. It is not a small file. At around 150MB, this may clog your internet connection for a while. Then zoom in to the darkest areas above the columns. Zoom in a bit, until you see the red dots appear in the view. There are many of them. The smaller ones are just red spots. Others are somewhat larger, resembling flowers with yellow centers surrounded by six red petals, sometimes with Webb’s snowflake-like refraction patterns.
Related: The James Webb Space Telescope did not refute the Big Bang. Here’s how this falsehood spread.
A star is born…
These flower formations are newborn starsCreation within the Pillars of Creation was revealed for the first time. For a web ancestor, the . file Hubble Space Telescopewhich observes the universe mostly in visible light (the wavelengths the human eye can see), these plumes were impenetrable, threatening the ascending dark formations of Eagle Nebulaa cloudy group of stars in the constellation Serpent less than 6000 light years away from the earth. But Webb, with his infrared and heat-detecting gaze, stared into the darkness to reveal just how light in the Universe is born.
“The most interesting thing about this image is that it shows us the process of star formation,” Anton Quiquemore, a research astronomer at STScI, told Space.com.
Koekemoer put the stunning image together from raw data captured by Webb’s powerful NIRCam camera. Stunning images of the universe are the daily bread and butter of Koekemoer, who previously worked on processing images from the Hubble Space Telescope. However, the astronomer admits that the texture, the level of detail, and the amount of scientific information contained in the web images amazes him even.
“I’m amazed at how well Webb can see in the dust and gas that darkens completely with Hubble,” Kwiquimore said. “With Hubble, you don’t see any details at all. But Webb, with his infrared vision, can directly penetrate into these regions and see stars forming inside those dusty plumes. It’s very exciting.”
… of cold dark dust
Professor Derek Ward Thompson shares Cockemore’s enthusiasm. Veteran astronomer and chair of the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK, Ward Thompson has published numerous scientific papers on the pillars of creation over the years, including a few strong magnetic fields that bear the formation. together. However, he says, his first thought upon seeing the first web image of his favorite cosmic hydrogen cloud was somewhat unscientific.
“I just thought ‘wow,'” Ward Thompson told Space.com. “It really made me understand how much better the James Webb Space Telescope would be than the Hubble telescope, which can only see outside. It also provides much better detail, and much higher resolution.”
Ward Thompson said Webb’s images provide a unique window into the dark, icy clouds where stellar embryos are incubated from hydrogen-rich dust. For the first time, astronomers can not only theorize about this process, but can also study it in dozens of examples of different sizes and brightness levels.
“I’m sure the Webb images will advance our understanding of how stars are formed, and therefore, where our sun comes from,” Ward Thompson.
The red dots visible in the Web images are protostars and cocoons of dust and gas so dense that they crumble together under their own weight. gravity. When the clouds collapse, they form spinning balls, which will eventually become so dense that the hydrogen atoms in their nuclei will begin to fuse together in the process of nuclear fusion, making stars shine.
Ward Thompson said the protostars that Webb sees aren’t quite there yet, only beginning to glow in infrared light as they warm above the cooler surrounding cloud, which is no less than minus 390 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 200 degrees Celsius). .
“These young stars we see in the image have not yet burned hydrogen,” Ward Thompson said. “But gradually, as more and more matter falls, the medium becomes denser and denser, and then suddenly, it becomes so dense that the burning of hydrogen is triggered, and then suddenly its temperature rises to about two million degrees Celsius. [35 million degrees F]. “
In some of the larger bright red spots in the image, several stars are exploding simultaneously. Elsewhere, its heat has not yet penetrated the dust around it.
Ward Thompson said the Pillars of Creation are one of the closest regions of active star formation to Earth, which means that in combination with the forces of Webb’s imaging, the site offers the best opportunity to study star formation processes.
Each of those red dots that you can only see when you zoom in on the image covers an area larger than our own Solar System. The entire image, which is 15,000 pixels wide, captures an area of 8-9 light-years away.
“You can solve the things that are the size of our solar system in the picture,” Koekemoer said. “If there were individual planets like Jupiter, you wouldn’t be able to solve them.”
The image, which Koekemoer collected from data taken by NIRCam in six different filters, shows the columns in different colors than they would appear to the human eye. The only wavelength in the image that the human eye can detect is the wavelength of red, which is represented by blue in the image.
“Yellow, green, orange and red are transmitted to mid-infrared wavelengths,” Kwiquimore said. “The wavelength in this image is six times longer than what the human eye can see.”
With each color, a different component of the physical processes that occur in the amazing nebula appears. The blue wisps of gas and dust that emanate like thin barriers from the edges of the nebula are clouds of ionized hydrogen — hydrogen electrons stripped from cooler atomic hydrogen and forming thick, dark clouds by intense ultraviolet light streaming from nearby massive stars.
The physics behind the pillars
By being able to reveal the structure of dust clouds with nuances and unprecedented texture, astronomers will also be able to study the processes that have sculpted towering clouds over millions of years.
“The material the pillars are made of is what we call the interstellar medium, the interstellar medium,” Ward Thompson said. It becomes more transparent as you work longer [infrared] wavelengths. Hubble images only tell us where the material was, but Webb now shows us where it is thicker and where it is thinner. It’s almost like making an X-ray of a human being.”
Astronomers know the plumes are not a stable cosmic sculpture, but rather an ever-changing flow of material, similar to the ever-changing surface of a sandy beach. Ward Thompson said that what forms the plumes are the strong stellar winds from a group of large stars, which is not visible in this image. Strong cosmic magnetic fields hold the clouds together, protecting them from being scattered by stellar winds. However, within several million years, the pillars will no longer resemble the iconic images we see today.
For Webb, The Pillars is still just the beginning, offering only a glimpse at what the $10 billion telescope can achieve.
“Everyone in the astronomical community is very excited about what the future holds for Webb,” Kwiquimore said. “I think there will be more observations coming on the way that will show us more about how stars and galaxies form.”
#stunning #image #pillars #creation #James #Webb #Space #Telescope #making #astronomers #clamor