NASA’s James Webb Telescope captures an intense scene of merging galaxies

Now that we have a powerful lens peering into the deepest parts of the universe, our definition of “awesome” has changed a bit when it comes to astronomical images.

It’s no longer a surprise, really, when NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals another A wise, ancient piece of the universe. At this point, we know to expect nothing less Tracking machine.

Conversely, whenever the telescope returns a A jaw-dropping space film, which now exudes a “JWST strikes again” sentiment. Still, our jaws legitimately drop every time.

This kind of disaffected version of “surprise” has happened again — to a much higher degree. Last week, scientists presented JWST’s spectacular view of a cluster of galaxies coalescing around a galaxy. Supermassive black hole It contains a rare quasar — aka an An inexplicably bright jet of light From the chaotic center of the void.

A lot going on here, I know. But the team behind the invention thinks it could go even further.

“We think something dramatic is going to happen in these systems,” said Andre Weiner, a Johns Hopkins astronomer and co-author of a study on the scene to be published soon in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. said in a statement. For now, let’s look at a paper detailing the discovery Published in arXiv.


An artist’s concept with a brilliant quasar at its center.

NASA, ESA and J. Olmsted (STScI)

What’s particularly fascinating about this image is that the quasar at hand is considered a “very red” quasar, meaning it’s far away from us and therefore physically rooted in an ancient region of space that falls at the beginning of time.

In essence, because it takes Time As light travels through space, every stream of cosmic light that reaches our eyes and our machines is seen as it was a long time ago. Even moonlight takes over 1.3 seconds When we gaze at the Moon, we see it 1.3 seconds in the past to reach the Earth.

With this quasar in particular, scientists believe it took about 11.5 billion years for the object’s light to reach Earth, meaning we see it as it was 11.5 billion years ago. It is, according to the team, one of the most powerful of its kind observed from such a great distance (11.5 billion light-years away, that is).

“The galaxy is at this exact moment in its lifetime, metamorphosed and completely different in a few billion years,” Weiner said of the quasar-anchored zone.

Analyzing the rarity of a galaxy

In the colorful picture presented by Weiner and fellow researchers, we see many things.

Each color in this image represents an object moving at a different speed.

ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, D. Wylezalek, A. Vayner & Q3D Team, N. Zakamska

A on the left Hubble Space Telescope A view of the area surveyed by the team and a blown-up version of where JWST went zero in the middle. Look to the far right of this image, where you’ll see four individually color-coded boxes, and you’ll analyze different aspects of the JWST data broken down by velocity.

For example, red objects move away from us while blue objects move towards us.

This classification shows us how each of the galaxies involved in the spectacular merger behaves — including the supermassive black hole and its associated red quasar, which, in fact, is the only one the team expects to find in NASA’s multibillion-dollar merger. Tool.

“What you’re seeing here is just a small subset of what’s in the data set,” said Johns Hopkins astrophysicist and study co-author Nadia L. Jagamska said in a statement. “There’s a lot going on here, so we’re the first to address what’s really the biggest surprise. Every bubble here is a baby galaxy merging together in this mother galaxy and the colors are moving at different speeds and the whole thing is moving in a very complex way.”

Now, Jakamska says, the team will begin to unravel the motions and improve our vision to an even greater extent. Already, though, we’re seeing more incredible information than the team expected to begin with. Hubble and the Gemini-North Telescope have previously shown the possibility of a variable galaxy, but nothing definite about the cluster we can see with JWST. Fantastic infrared equipment.

Toward the center, slightly to the southwest, is a luminous circle depicting Neptune.  Faint rings, also glowing, are seen around the orb.  To the northwest of this globe is a six-roofed, bright blue fixture that represents one of Neptune's moons.  Tons of points and sw

In another spectacular image taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), hundreds of background galaxies, varying in size and shape, appear in conjunction with the Neptune system.


“With previous images, we saw hints that the galaxy is interacting with other galaxies on a merger path, as their shapes are distorted in the process,” Jakamska said. “But after we got the web data, I was like, ‘I don’t know what we’re looking at here, what is all this!’ We stared at these pictures for weeks.”

It soon became clear that JWST was showing us at least three separate galaxies moving incredibly fast, the team said. They believe it may represent one of the densest regions of galaxy formation in the early universe.


Artist’s impression of quasar P172+18, a black hole 300 times more massive than the Sun.

ESO/M. Grain fairs

Everything about this complex film is mesmerizing. We have the black hole, what Jakamska calls the “monster,” the extremely rarefied jet of light spewed from the black hole, and galaxies on a collision course—all of which are seen as they were. Billions of years ago.

So, dare I say it? JWST strikes again, giving us a very precious cosmic vignette. Mark, jaw drop.

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