About the Object

Name: IC 348
Distance: 1000 light years
Constellation: Perseus
Category: NIRCam


Position (RA):3 44 34.35
Position (Dec):32° 9' 37.20"
Field of view:3.97 x 5.32 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 17.8° left of vertical

Colours & filters

Infrared 2.77 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
Infrared 3.6 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
Infrared 4.44 μmJames Webb Space Telescope

Star Cluster IC 348 (NIRCam image)

This image from the NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument on the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope shows the central portion of the star cluster IC 348. Astronomers combed the cluster in search of tiny, free-floating brown dwarfs: objects too small to be stars but larger than most planets. They found three brown dwarfs that are less than eight times the mass of Jupiter. The smallest weighs just three to four times as much as Jupiter, challenging theories for star formation.

The wispy curtains filling the image are interstellar material reflecting the light from the cluster’s stars — what is known as a reflection nebula. The material also includes carbon-containing molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. The bright star closest to the centre of the frame is actually a pair of type B stars in a binary system, the most massive stars in the cluster. Winds from these stars may help sculpt the large loop seen on the right side of the field of view.

[Image description: Wispy hair-like filaments of pink-purple fill the middle of the image, curving left and right on either side of the centre. On the right, the filaments form a dramatic loop that seems to extend toward the viewer. At lower left are additional yellowish filaments. Two prominent, bright stars near the centre of the image show Webb’s eight-point diffraction spikes. Dozens of fainter stars are scattered across the image.]


NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and K. Luhman (Penn State University) and C. Alves de Oliveira (European Space Agency)

About the Image

Id: weic2331a
Type: Observation
Release date: 13 December 2023, 16:00
Related releases: weic2331
Size: 3788 x 5077 px

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