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.
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.
“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.
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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