The Cartwheel Galaxy and other infrared photos from JWST have been merged with X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra satellite telescope.
The James Webb Space Telescope has captivated our curiosity and our news cycle unlike any other space telescope since Hubble’s prime (JWST). And some of its most recent images are no different.
This summer, JWST published its first photographs following months of calibrations, including views of SMACS 0723.3-7327, the Cartwheel Galaxy, Stephan’s Quintet, and the Cosmic Cliffs of the Carina Nebula. Now that JWST has partnered with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, its initial photos have already undergone some improvements. Astronomers can gain greater insight into the activity in regions that JWST was unable to observe by combining X-ray data with infrared images from the spacecraft.
Vivid red, orange, and green colours depict the cosmic embrace of the close-knit galaxies in the original JWST image of Stephan’s Quintet. However, when the X-ray data from Chandra were added (light blue), scientists discovered a shockwave that heats neighbouring gas to tens of millions of degrees as the galaxies collide at about 2 million mph (3.2 million km/h).
In the meantime, the fresh images of the Cartwheel Galaxy with the X-rays (blue and purple) added to beautify them show burst stars, superheated gas, neutron stars, and black holes that are actively absorbing matter from their neighbours.
JWST’s initial image of SMACS 0723.3-7327 was magnificent, but it missed a crucial aspect. The press statement claims that this collection of galaxies, which is 4.2 billion light-years away, is home to enormous concentrations of hot gas, with a total mass of 100 trillion Suns. These are visible as a huge blob in the image’s centre and were found in the Chandra data (blue). The abundant dark matter, which is also present in this region but is invisible in this image since neither telescope can detect it, also calls this region home.
The Cosmic Cliffs of the Carina Nebula, which are the glittering edge of the nascent star-forming region known as NGC 3324, are depicted in JWST’s final and possibly most stunning corrected image. The cliffs are dotted with additional X-ray data (pink). The young stars that make up these pink speckles are between 1 million and 2 million years old, and they glow more brightly in X-rays than older stars do.
Over the duration of its existence, the James Webb Space Telescope will continue to cooperate with many of NASA’s other complementing equipment, proving the maxim “The more the merrier!