ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA
The Phantom Galaxy (M74), is located about 32 million light years from Earth. M74 shone brightest in the combined optical/infrared image, featuring data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.
Nationalgeographic.co.id—Launch and operation of the James Webb Space Telescope (commonly known as Webb or JWST) is one of the most exciting scientific events in decades. But although this first year of operation was only the beginning of the telescope, it has contributed to many amazing scientific discoveries. Dozens of extraordinary scientific breakthroughs have been achieved thanks to the existence of James Webb. One of which is Galaxy Phantom.
New images of the spectacular Phantom Galaxy—the galaxy it’s officially known as M74—showing the power of space observatories cooperating at multiple wavelengths. In this case, data from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope complement each other to provide a holistic view of this galaxy.
The Phantom Galaxy is about 32 million light years from Earth in the constellation Pisces, and is located nearly opposite Earth. This, coupled with its well-defined spiral arms, makes it a favorite target for astronomers studying the origin and spiral structure of galaxies.
M74 is a specific class of spiral galaxies known as ‘grand design spirals’, meaning that its spiral arms are prominent and well-defined, unlike the patchwork and uneven structures seen in some spiral galaxies. Astronomers estimate M74 hosts about 100 billion stars.
Re-imaging of the Phantom Galaxy with Webb infrared.
Called Phantom (ghost) because the surface brightness of this galaxy is low. It is the most difficult to find of all the Messier objects that amateur astronomers observe in small telescopes. The low surface brightness is due to the fact that the galaxy is located nearly opposite Earth.
However, Webb’s keen eyesight has uncovered the fine filaments of gas and dust in M74’s majestic spiral arms, which spiral outward from the center of the image. The lack of gas in the core region also provides an unobstructed view of the core star clusters at the center of the galaxy.
Webb stared at M74 with the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) to learn more about the early phases of star formation in the local Universe. This observation is part of a larger project effort. Project to map 19 nearby star-forming galaxies in the infrared by the international PHANGS collaboration. The galaxies have been observed using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories.
“The addition of crystal-clear Webb observations at longer wavelengths will allow astronomers to pinpoint star-forming regions in galaxies, accurately measure the masses and ages of star clusters, and gain insight into the nature of tiny dust grains drifting in interstellar space,” said ESA. .
ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA
Comparison of the Hubble (left) and Webb (right) images of the Phantom Galaxy, with the new merged image of the two (center).
Hubble’s previous observations of M74 have revealed an extremely bright region of star formation known as the H II region. Hubble’s keen vision at visible ultraviolet wavelengths complements Webb’s unparalleled sensitivity at infrared wavelengths.
While the Phantom Galaxy is hard to spot in the night sky, its brilliance is far from invisible, especially when captured in infrared with Webb. This stunning composite image combining Hubble and Webb images brings to life the optical and infrared aspects of the galaxy.
ESA describes what you see in the new image, “Red marks dust flowing through the galactic arms, lighter orange being hotter areas of dust. Young stars throughout the galaxy’s arms and core are blue. Older and heavier stars headed towards the center of the galaxy in cyan and green, projecting an eerie light from the core of the Phantom Galaxy. Star formation bubbles also appear pink on the arms. It’s rare to see multiple galaxy features in one image.”
By combining data from telescopes operating across the electromagnetic spectrum, scientists can gain much greater insight into astronomical objects than using a single observatory.