About the Object

PHANGS image mosaic

This collection of 19 face-on spiral galaxies from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope in near- and mid-infrared light is at once overwhelming and awe-inspiring. Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) captured millions of stars in these images. Older stars appear blue here, and are clustered at the galaxies’ cores. The telescope’s MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) observations highlight glowing dust, showing where it exists around and between stars – appearing in shades of red and orange. Stars that haven’t yet fully formed and are encased in gas and dust appear bright red.

Webb’s high-resolution images are the first to show large, spherical shells in the gas and dust in such exquisite detail. These holes may have been created by stars that exploded and carved out giant regions in the interstellar material.

Another eye-catching detail? Several galaxy cores are awash in pink-and-red diffraction spikes. These are clear signs that these galaxies may have central active supermassive black holes or central star clusters.

These spiral galaxies are Webb’s first big batch of contributions to the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) program, that includes existing images and data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Telescope’s Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE), and the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA). With Webb’s images, researchers can now examine these galaxies in ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and radio light.

[Image description: Nineteen Webb images of face-on spiral galaxies are combined in a mosaic, some within squares, and others horizontal or vertical rectangles. Galaxies’ spiral arms appear in shades of orange, and many of their centres have light blue hazes.]


NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, J. Lee (STScI), T. Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team, E. Wheatley (STScI)

About the Image

Id: weic2403a
Type: Collage
Release date: 29 January 2024, 16:00
Related releases: weic2403
Size: 4500 x 4500 px

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