Webb Telescope Snaps A Colorful Mesmerizing Photo Of A Massive Star-Forming Complex

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NASA’s Webb telescope captured an image of a mammoth star-forming complex that spans nearly 1,630 light years. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), nebula N79 is a region of interstellar atomic hydrogen that is ionized.

N79 has been referred to as a younger version of 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantual Nebula. NASA remarked that research suggests that N79 has a star formation efficiency that exceeds that of 30 Doradus by a factor of two over the last 500,000 years. The recent observations of N79 are part of a Webb program that is currently studying the evolutionary stages.

One familiar feature of the image is the distinct ‘starburst’ pattern, known as diffraction spikes, that surrounds the “bright object.” These diffraction spikes, or artifacts, are apparent in telescopes that use mirrors to collect light, such as Webb. With Webb, the six largest starburst spikes are visible because of the hexagonal symmetry of Webb’s 18 primary mirror segments.

Webb’s Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) captured light at longer wavelengths, showcasing the region’s glowing gas and dust. This is possible because mid-infrared light can penetrate deeper inside the clouds, while shorter wavelengths of light would be absorbed. The European Space Agency (ESA) pointed out that some “still-embedded protostars also appear in this field.”

Astronomers are interested in areas of space such as this because of their chemical composition being similar to that of the large star-forming regions when the Universe was only a few billion years old. Webb’s unique abilities are providing astronomers the opportunity to be able to compare and contrast observations of star formation in N79 with other deep space observations made by Webb of distant galaxies presumed to be part of the early Universe.

As Webb continues to gather new data of the early Universe, observations such as N79 will be integral in studying the evolution of the known Universe.
Tags:  space, NASA, telescope, star, webb