About the Object

Two Views of the Gas in the Southern Ring Nebula (NIRCam and MIRI Composite Images)

The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope offers dramatically different views of the same scene! Each image combines near- and mid-infrared light from three filters from the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).

At left, Webb’s image of the Southern Ring Nebula (NGC 3132) highlights the very hot gas that surrounds the central stars. This hot gas is banded by a sharp ring of cooler gas, which appears in both images.

At right, Webb’s image traces the star’s scattered outflows that have reached farther into the cosmos. Most of the molecular gas that lies outside the band of cooler gas is also cold. It is also far clumpier, consisting of dense knots of molecular gas that form a halo around the central stars.
By accounting for the temperatures and gas contents in both areas, inside and outside the band, and by combining Webb’s data with precise measurements from other observatories, scientists were able to create far more accurate models to demonstrate when gas was ejected by the central star (which appears red in the image at left).

What about the third star that is visible at the lower-right edge of the band within the nebula? From Webb’s vantage point, it appears within the scene, but isn’t part of the nebula itself. It’s merely “photobombing” this party.

[Image Description: Two views of the Southern Ring Nebula are shown side by side, which appear as a misshapen oval that is slightly angled from the top left to the bottom right. The left image shows two stars that are almost overlapping at the center. A large almost solid white oval surrounds the central stars. The right image shows one star at the center. A large translucent pink-and-red irregular oval surrounds the central stars.]


NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, O. De Marco (Macquarie University), J. DePasquale (STScI)

About the Image

Id: southernring1
Type: Collage
Release date: 8 December 2022, 17:00
Size: 9810 x 4753 px

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5.1 MB
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