The image of the M74 galaxy shows the possibilities of James Webb

The image of the M74 galaxy shows the possibilities of James Webb

The world is still stunned by the amazing capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope. Recent new images of the Fantom galaxy, free of gas interference and dust, demonstrate the incredible capabilities of space-observatorys working together in multiple waves; in this case, the data of the James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope complement each other, creating a full panorama of the galaxy with an amazingly clear image of the star cluster in the center.

Phantom's galaxy is about 32 million light years away from the Earth in the constellation Fish, which, along with well-expressed spiral sleeves, makes it a favourite object for astronomers studying the origin and structure of galaxy spirals. It was discovered by Pierre Meschen in 1780 and observed by Charles Messier, who put it in his catalogue a few weeks later.

M74 belongs to a special class of spiral galaxy known as the "big design spire", which means that its spiral sleeves are isolated and clearly marked, unlike the uneven and irregular structure observed in some spiral galaxy. It is believed that this symmetrical structure of the entire galaxy was probably caused by the passage of a density wave that caused the formation of the star in the spiral sleeves.

The galaxy has low surface luminance, which makes it difficult to observe. It has already been painted by Hubble, but it has been shaded by surrounding gas and dust. This is because Hubble sees visible light, ultraviolet radiation, and near infrared radiation, which makes gas and dust incomprehensible as for the human eye.

Recently, as part of the Phangs Survey program, James Webb's space telescope took an extremely clear and detailed photograph of the object because it can pass through these interferences. The goal is to understand the relationship between gas and star formation, as well as the structure and evolution of these galaxies.

The Infrared Vision of Webb opens the heart of the galaxy

James Webb can observe celestial bodies, such as stars, nebulas and planets, which are too cold or dim to be seen in visible light, using his medium infrared range instrument. That's why astronomers sent him to M74 to learn more about the early stages of star formation in the local universe.

This crystal clean image on longer waves will allow astronomers to identify areas of star formation in galaxies, accurately measure the mass and age of star formations to date different parts of spiral galaxies. This will allow them to understand better the nature of tiny dusts drifting in interstellar space and how galaxies have collected over time.

For example, Webb's sharp vision revealed thin threads of gas and dust in the spiral sleeves of M74, which depart from the center of the galaxy.

As mentioned earlier, Hubble has already photographed this galaxy using the Advanced Camera for Surveys camera, which this year celebrates its 20th birthday, with more than 125,000 images in two decades. Its observations have revealed particularly bright areas of star formation known as HII. These areas, which are common in M74, are huge clouds of hydrogen gas that become bright as a result of ultraviolet radiation from hot young stars built into them and are an important target for space and ground telescopes.

The acute vision of Hubble in ultraviolet and visible wave ranges complements the unprecedented sensitivity of MIRI Webb, as well as the observation of ground-based radio telescopes such as Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, ALMA, which produced an unprecedented deep and comprehensive picture of the M74 galaxy.

The red is the dust that passes through the galaxy's sleeves and the lighter orange is the hotter dust area. The young stars through the sleeves and the nuclear core are shown in blue. The heavier, older stars in the center of the galaxy are shown in blue and green, "", as the ESA release states. Star-forming bubbles are also visible in pink color on the sleeves. This diversity of galaxy features is rarely seen in one image.

By combining telescope data across the electromagnetic spectrum, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of these astronomical objects than with one observatory — even as powerful as Webb!