Dazzling galactic diamonds shine in new image from the Webb Telescope

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The James Webb Space Telescope has captured a unique perspective of the Universe, including never-before-seen galaxies glittering like diamonds in the cosmos.

The new image, released Wednesday as part of a study published in the Astronomical Journal, was taken as part of the Prime Extragalactic Areas for Reionization and Lensing Science observing program called PEARLS.

It is one of the first wide-field, mid-to-low images of the Universe, where “mid-low” means the faintest objects visible and “wide-field” refers to the region of the cosmos captured in the image.

“Webb’s stunning image quality is truly out of this world,” said study co-author Anton Koekemoer, a research astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore who mosaicked the PEARLS images, in a statement. “To get a glimpse of very rare galaxies at the dawn of cosmic time, we need the deep, wide-area imaging that this PEARLS field provides.”

Webb captured this mosaic of a region of the sky covering 2% of the area covered by the full moon.

Focused on a part of the sky called the North Pole of the Ecliptic, the Webb Telescope was able to use eight different colors of near-infrared light to see celestial objects 1 billion times fainter than what can be seen with the naked eye .

Thousands of galaxies shimmer from different distances, and some of the light in the image has traveled almost 13.5 billion years to reach us.

“I was blown away by the initial PEARLS images,” said study co-author Rolf Jansen, a research scientist at Arizona State University and a PEARLS co-researcher, in a statement.

“When I picked this field near the north pole of the ecliptic, I didn’t know that it would produce such a treasure trove of distant galaxies and that we would get direct clues about the processes by which galaxies form and grow,” he said. “I can see streams, tails, shells and haloes of stars on their outskirts, the remains of their building blocks.”

The researchers combined Webb data with three colors of ultraviolet and visible light captured by the Hubble Space Telescope to create the image. Together, the wavelengths of light from both telescopes reveal unprecedented depth and detail from a wealth of galaxies in the Universe. Many of these distant galaxies have always eluded Hubble and ground-based telescopes.

The image represents only part of the full PEARLS field, which will be about four times larger. The mosaic is even better than scientists expected after running simulations in the months before Webb began scientific observations in July.

“There are many objects I never thought we might actually see, including single globular clusters around distant elliptical galaxies, star-forming nodes within spiral galaxies, and thousands of faint galaxies in the background,” said study co-author Jake Summers. a research fellow at Arizona State University, in a statement.

Other points of light in the image represent a series of stars in our Milky Way.

Measuring the diffuse light in front of and behind the stars and galaxies in the image is like “coding the history of the universe” because it tells a story of cosmic evolution, according to study co-author Rosalia O’Brien, a research associate at the Arizona State University, in a statement.

The PEARLS team hopes to see more objects in this region in the future, like distant exploding stars or flashes of light around black holes, as they vary in brightness.

“This unique field is designed to be Webb observable 365 days a year, so its time domain legacy, area covered and depth attained can only improve over time,” said study lead author Rogier Windhorst. Regents Professor at Arizona State University and PEARLS Principal Investigator, in a statement.

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