About the Object

Category: Galaxies

Kilonova and host galaxy (annotated)

A team of scientists has used the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope to observe an exceptionally bright gamma-ray burst, GRB 230307A, and its associated kilonova. Kilonovas—an explosion produced by a neutron star merging with either a black hole or with another neutron star—are extremely rare, making it difficult to observe these events. The highly sensitive infrared capabilities of Webb helped scientists identify the home address of the two neutron stars that created the kilonova.

This image from Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument highlights GRB 230307A’s kilonova and its former home galaxy among their local environment of other galaxies and foreground stars. The neutron stars were kicked out of their home galaxy and travelled the distance of about 120,000 light-years, approximately the diameter of the Milky Way galaxy, before finally merging several hundred million years later.

This image is a composite of separate exposures acquired by the James Webb Space Telescope using the NIRCam instrument. Several filters were used to sample wide wavelength ranges. The colour results from assigning different hues (colours) to each monochromatic (grayscale) image associated with an individual filter. In this case, the assigned colours are: Blue: F115W + F150W Green: F277W Red: F356W + F444W

[Image description: Bright galaxies and other light sources in various sizes and shapes are scattered across a black swath of space: small points, hazy elliptical-like smudges with halos, and spiral-shaped blobs. The objects vary in colour: white, blue-white, yellow-white, and orange-red. Toward the centre right is a blue-white spiral galaxy seen face-on that is larger than the other light sources in the image. The galaxy is labelled “former home galaxy.” Toward the upper left is a small red point, which has a white circle around it and is labelled “GRB 230307A kilonova.”]


NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, A. Levan (IMAPP, Warw), A. Pagan (STScI)

About the Image

Id: weic2325b
Type: Collage
Release date: 25 October 2023, 17:00
Related releases: weic2325
Size: 2525 x 2047 px

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