What James Webb Has Learned About The Stunning Cartwheel Galaxy

What James Webb Has Learned About The Stunning Cartwheel Galaxy

Data from both instruments was necessary to build up a more complete picture of the galaxy. The NIRCam data, which appears as blue, orange, and yellow in the composite image, shows bright young stars in the outer ring of the galaxy especially well. Areas of blue show where new stars are being born (via ESA).

MIRI data can show composition of parts of the galaxy, like regions of hydrocarbons and silicate dust. The MIRI image also shows the “spokes” that radiate out from the central region of the galaxy.

The unusual structure of the galaxy can be seen more clearly in the MIRI image, where you can see both an inner ring close to the center and an outer ring around the galaxy’s edges. These rings are created by the collision between the two original galaxies, which formed the current galaxy when shockwaves were sent out by the massive event. The structure means the galaxy is called a ring galaxyone of the rarest types of galaxy.

The Cartwheel galaxy will continue to change and evolve over time as well. “Webb’s observations underscore that the Cartwheel is in a very transitory stage,” ESA scientists wrote. “The galaxy, which was presumably a normal spiral galaxy like the Milky Way before its collision, will continue to transform. While Webb gives us a snapshot of the current state of the Cartwheel, it also provides insight into what happened to this galaxy in the past and how it will evolve in the future.”

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