What is the relevance of the recently released images from the James Webb Space Telescope?

Source: The post is based on the article What is the relevance of the recently released images from the James Webb Space Telescope?published in The Hindu on 14th July 2022

What is the News?

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has delivered the five deepest and sharpest infrared images of the distant universe so far. 

What are the five images released by James Webb Telescope?

SMACS 0723: It is a noted cluster of galaxies around 5.12 billion light-years away. It is situated in the direction of the southern constellation of Volans. The cluster has been previously studied by Hubble, Planck and Chandra space telescopes. But the rich details given by James Webb Telescope are unmatched.

NGC 3324: It is a star-forming region in the southern constellation Carina, located northwest of the Carina Nebula. It is located approximately 7,600 light-years from Earth. It is home to many more massive and young stars than our Sun.

– Note: Stars and star clusters are formed inside giant gas clouds. Typically, the massive interstellar clouds where new stars are formed are huge with diameters of about 100 light-years and holding nearly six million solar masses. These star-forming regions remained hidden from even powerful telescopes until now.

Eight-Burst Nebula: It is also known as the Southern Ring Nebula or NGC 3132. It is a well-known planetary nebula in the constellation Vela, located approximately 2,500 light-years from Earth.

– Note: Despite their name, planetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets. They are gas shells formed from the cast-off outer layers of a dying star. Intermediate mass stars with a mass of 0.8 to eight times the mass of the Sun end their lives with drama. They do not die in one big explosion but go through a cycle of fits and starts. 

Stephan’s Quintet: It is a visual grouping of five galaxies. It is best known for being prominently featured in the holiday classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

– Together, the five galaxies of Stephan’s Quintet are also known as the Hickson Compact Group 92 (HCG 92). Although called a “quintet,” only four of the galaxies are truly close together and caught up in a cosmic dance. The fifth and leftmost galaxy called NGC 7320 is well in the foreground compared with the other four.

WASP-96b: It is an exoplanet (a planet that orbits another star) orbiting a star named WASP-96. It is located around 1,150 light-years from Earth. The planet has a mass half that of Jupiter and goes around the central star every 3.4 days.

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