The JWST, while showing off its amazing photographic capabilities, has captured an astonishing picture of the N79 nebula, located in our neighboring satellite galaxy the "Large Magellanic Cloud".
The colorful image with a prominent orange color with splashes of blue shows the dawn of new stars in its core. Thanks to the gigantic 1630 light-year size of the N79 nebula, it presents many opportunities for such stars to rise.
The region JWST focused on lies in the Large Magellanic Cloud (161,000 light years from Earth)which, to this day lives in relative mystery. The cloud hosts another well-known nebula, the Tarantula Nebula aka 30 Doradus. The N79 is by astronomers considered the younger sibling of the Tarantula Nebula.
However, it seems the two siblings have a race going on and the name of the race is 'who makes more stars', through observations it is observed that N79 is taking the lead as in the last 500,000 it has been producing stars at double the rate of Tarantula Nebula.
Why focus on baby stars when the universe has many adult stars to observe? Well, by studying the conditions during the formation of new stars scientists hope to learn more about the star-birthing clouds of gas and dust in the early universe, when star formation was at its most intense.
[Image Description: A bright young star within a colorful Nebula. The star is the brightest spot. 📸Cr: NASA\JWST]
JWST makes observations more Crisp and Clear
When it comes to the abilities of the JWST, it is truly unrivaled. This particular image centers on one of the three giant molecular cloud complexes, dubbed N79 South (S1 for short). The starburst pattern visible in the center is an after-effect of the JWST's mirrors and so would all other satellites which use mirrors to collect light. The hexagonal symmetry in this picture is due to the alignment of the 18 mirrors that JWST uses.
Patterns like these are only visible around very bright and compact objects, where all the light comes from the same source. Most galaxies, small or large, are darker and much more spread out than any single star thus, do not show this pattern.
The MIRI (Mid Infrared Instrument) on the JWST helped capture this image as this instrument sees in Infrared wavelengths. This helped scientists see through the dust cloud, which would otherwise make it impossible for light to travel all the way to us. The dust cloud is a hurdle, especially for the shorter wavelengths of light that are visible to us without assistance.
The picture is however a processed image. This image includes 7.7 microns of light shown in blue, 10 in cyan, 15 in yellow, and 21 in red.
Webb's sensitive detectors helped scientists see for the first time the planet-forming dust discs around stars which are of similar size and mass to Our Sun but at great distances of LMC. This will help forward the Webb program which focuses on the evolution of the circumstellar discs and envelops of forming stars over a wide range in mass and at different evolutionary stages.
[Image description: The image shows the Magellan cloud on the left and the MIRI instrument on the right. 📸 NASA]