Cropped version of the James Webb Photograph of the Inner Orion Nebula. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Data reduction and analysis : PDRs4All ERS Team; graphical processing S. Fuenmayor.

Scientists “Blown Away” By James Webb Photograph of the Orion Nebula

The James Webb Space Telescope observed the inner regions of the Orion Nebula leaving scientists "blown away" by what the space telescope photographed.

The James Webb Space Telescope continues exploring the wonders of the universe, and this time, it turned its high-tech cameras to a nearby nebula to observe its magic. In the Orion Nebula, the James Webb Space Telescope saw a wall of dense gas and dust that resembled a massive winged creature whose glowing maw is lit by a bright star. James Webb Space Telescope images of the Orion Nebula were presented on Monday by an international research team, leaving astronomers “blown away.” In a similar setting to the birthplace of our own solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago, the stellar nursery is located 1,350 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Orion.

A Photograph showing the inner region of the Orion Nebula, as observed by the James Webb Space Telescope's NIRCam Instrument. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Data reduction and analysis : PDRs4All ERS Team; graphical processing S. Fuenmayor.
A Photograph showing the inner region of the Orion Nebula, as observed by the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam Instrument. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Data reduction and analysis: PDRs4All ERS Team; graphical processing S. Fuenmayor.

Astronomers are interested in the region in order to gain a better understanding of planetary evolution’s first million years. A total of 100 scientists were involved in obtaining the images as part of the Early Release Science program, including French scientists from CNRS, Canadian scientists from Western University, and scientists from the University of Michigan. According to Western University astrophysicist Els Peeters, the images of the Orion Nebula are breathtaking.

James Webb Space Telescope Image with annotations of the Orion Nebula. Image Credit: Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Data reduction and analysis : PDRs4All ERS Team; graphical processing S. Fuenmayor.
James Webb Space Telescope Image with annotations of the Orion Nebula. Image Credit: Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Data reduction and analysis: PDRs4All ERS Team; graphical processing S. Fuenmayor.

“These new observations allow us to better understand how massive stars transform the gas and dust cloud in which they are born,” she added.  Observing nebulas with visible-light telescopes is impossible due to dust covering them. Hubble, Webb’s predecessor, was incapable of observing them. However, Webb focuses on infrared wavelengths, which penetrate dust. A large number of spectacular structures were discovered, ranging from the size of our solar system to approximately 40 astronomical units. Among the numerous structures, scientists observed dense filaments of matter that could lead to the formation of new generations of stars, as well as stellar systems made up of a central protostar surrounded by a disk of dust and gas, which could become planets.

A comparison between two photographs of the Orion Nebula. To the left is a photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, and to the right the same region as observed by the  James Webb Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, PDRs4All ERS Team; image processing Olivier Berné.
A comparison between two photographs of the Orion Nebula. To the left is a photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, and to the right the same region as observed by the James Webb Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, PDRs4All ERS Team; image processing Olivier Berné.

Edwin Bergin, a member of the international team and chair of astronomy at the University of Michigan, said, “We hope to gain an understanding of the entire cycle of star birth.” Specifically, in this image, we are seeing how the first generation of stars is essentially irradiating the material for the next generation of stars. These incredible structures illustrate how the feedback cycle of stellar birth operates within our galaxy and beyond, Bergin explained. With a primary mirror measuring approximately 6.5 meters long (over 21 feet) and a five-layer sunshield the size of a tennis court, Webb is the most powerful space telescope ever built.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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