The Rho Ophiuchi image was a case in point, showing a nebula — a massive cloud of interstellar gas and dust that serves as a nursery for new stars — located in our Milky Way galaxy about 390 light-years from Earth. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, 9.5 trillion km.
Rho Ophiuchi is only about a million years old, which is a blink of an eye in cosmic time.
Here, we see how new suns form, along with planet-forming disks appearing as small, dark shadows. “These are very similar to what we think the solar system looked like over 4.5 billion years ago,” said astronomer and former Webb project scientist Klaus Pontopidan, now a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“As stars and planetary systems come together, they blow out the dusty cocoon from which they were formed in violent outbursts, as seen in the red jets plowing through the cloud like a boat in water. The core of Rho Ophiuchi is completely obscured by vast amounts of dust, so it is essentially invisible to telescopes that It operates in visible light, like the Hubble telescope. Still, Webb looks through the dust to reveal young stars within, showing the early stages in each star’s life,” Pontopidan said.
The image, obtained in March and April this year, shows how jets of material from young stars affect surrounding gas and dust as they illuminate molecular hydrogen. In one part of the picture, a star is seen inside a glowing cavern whose stellar winds are cleaving through space.
“You see an almost impressionistic nebula with three bright young stars crowned on top. We were surprised by the size and detail of the jets and outflows,” Pontopidan said.
Since it was up and running, Webb revealed that there was a file The oldest known galaxies and black holes. It has spotted large, mature, but remarkably compact galaxies teeming with stars that formed within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang event that marked the beginning of the universe about 13.8 billion years ago — much sooner than scientists thought possible.
Some would say there are a few parts of astrophysics that Webb hasn’t touched on one way or the other. Notable results include the discovery of new galaxies and black holes in the early universe and new views of the atmospheres of exoplanets. Rho Ophiuchi’s images show how Webb gives us a new window into the formation of stars and planets,” Pontopidan said.
Orbital Observatory It is designed to be much more sensitive Its predecessor is the Hubble Space Telescope. Webb looks at the universe mainly in the infrared, while Hubble examined it mainly in the light and ultraviolet wavelengths. Webb is able to scan at greater distances, thus going back in time farther from the Hubble telescope.
“In just one year, the James Webb Space Telescope has transformed humanity’s view of the universe, looking at clouds of dust and seeing light from far corners of the universe for the first time,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “Each new image is a new discovery, enabling scientists around the world to ask and answer questions they could never have dreamed of.”
(Reporting by Will Dunham.)