The James Webb Space Telescope has revealed – in never before seen detail – a stunning new image of the beautiful Cartwheel Galaxy!
The galaxy itself dominates the image, and its odd shape today is the result of a collision between two galaxies approximately 400 million years ago.
In the image, we see the galaxy is made of two distinct rings: a dense inner ring and a colorful outer ring, the two connected by spokes of hydrocarbon rich dust. Both of these rings are slowly expanding out into space. As the outer ring expands, it plows into surrounding clouds of gas and dust causing new stars to be born extremely quickly.
While we don’t see it in this image much, the galaxy is surrounded by immense amounts of dust which obscures our view in visible light – the light that our eyes can see.
Thankfully, the James Webb Space Telescope is able to see infrared light which travels through the dust to be seen by the telescope in this image today. By studying images like this one, we can better understand what happens when galaxies collide and the amazing ways in which new stars form!
Check out LSC’s “What’s Next in Space” show to learn more about the amazing James Webb Space Telescope and to see this image in the largest planetarium in America! Click here to get all the details and purchase tickets now.