A new image from the James Webb Space Telescope reveals the incredible beauty of M74, also known as the Phantom Galaxy.
New Phantom Galaxy detail captured by Webb telescope
Previously, Hubble captured the Phantom Galaxy, but Webb’s infrared technology reveals for the first time its “delicate filaments of gas and dust in the grandiose spiral arms that wind outward,” as per ESA, which is overseeing Webb along with NASA and CSA.
According to ESA, the Phantom Galaxy is 32 million light years away. It is classified as a ‘grand design spiral’, which means its spiral arms are prominent and well-defined, unlike patchy, ragged spiral galaxies.
Since the spiral galaxy is almost face-on to our planet, astronomers enjoy its excellent view and are eager to learn more about its origin and structure.
Webb’s work is part of a larger project to map 19 nearby star-forming galaxies in the infrared using Webb’s technology. Astronomers can also use Webb to determine the mass and age of star clusters, and to study the nature of dust particles that drift in space.
At the end of last year, NASA launched the James Webb Space Telescope from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The largest space telescope ever built has been beaming stunning images back since mid-July, including this amazing shot of Jupiter.
Webb’s mission is more than just capturing beautiful space photos, because scientists hope the data from the mission will give them new insights into the origins of the universe, and even help them discover planets like ours that might host life.