Webb probes star formation in distant galaxies

This new image from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a stunning example of a natural effect called gravitational lensing, which occurs when a massive object, such as a cluster of galaxies, bends the path of light around it due to the curvature of space. -time. This phenomenon can distort or magnify the image of the object behind the lens.

In this Webb image, a cluster of galaxies in the foreground acts as a gravitational lens. As light from distant galaxies passes through the galaxy cluster, it is bent and magnified, creating the bright smears of light seen in the image.

Gravitational lensing is particularly useful for studying objects that are too faint or too distant to be observed directly by telescopes. The long, bright, distorted arc that extends near the core is actually a magnified image of the Cosmic Seahorse galaxy. Thanks to the magnification provided by the gravitational lens, astronomers were able to study the distant galaxy in detail.

This image was captured using Webb’s NIRCam or Near Infrared Camera – one of the four main scientific instruments aboard the telescope. NIRCam is designed to observe and image objects in the near infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Here, the lens galaxy cluster is SDSS J1226+2149, which lies about 6.3 billion light-years from Earth, in the constellation Coma Berenices.

The image is just one observation from a program designed to probe star formation in distant galaxies. In addition to revealing how stars form and evolve in these galaxies and characterizing the environments in which they gave birth to new stars, such as the presence of gas, dust and other materials, these observations will show the powerful capabilities Webb’s observation.

Using his crystal vision and advanced scientific instruments, Webb will be able to capture images and detailed spectra of more of these galaxies in the future, revealing new information about their properties and behavior.

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