NASA has unveiled fresh images from its powerful James Webb space telescope, this time of an eerie-looking purple spiral galaxy.
Named by NASA as “NGC 628”, the swirling distant galaxy with violet hues and dusty arms is reminiscent of something from a sci-fi flick.
The Webb telescope snapped the eerie image on 17 July before it was transmitted back to Earth where it was logged in the Barbara Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) – a public library of space images that can be accessed by anyone.
Gabriel Brammer, an astronomer at the Cosmic Dawn Center in the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, spotted the image and shared it on Twitter on Monday.
In an interview with The Independent, he said the image had him “blown away” the second he had it open on his screen.
“This is a galaxy that probably looks a lot like what we think our own Milky Way looks like,” he explained.
“You can see all these knots of individual stars forming, individual supernovae have gone off and really study that in detail.”
Looking at this same galaxy from the Hubble telescope or with ground-based telescopes will not give you the same majestic view, added Dr Brammer.
‘You see blue stars, you see red stars, you see spiral arms, you see dust lanes.’
Those dust lanes, he explained, refer to the reddish-brown filaments in the spiral arms.
“In the mid-infrared, what you’re actually kind of seeing is the inverse of that, where that dust is no longer absorbing; we’re actually observing directly that dust itself that’s now glowing, because the dust itself is emitting.
‘We’re actually seeing an image of the gas and the dust in this galaxy, rather than the stars.’
SHARPEST SNAPS YET
Some of the deepest and sharpest infrared images of the distant universe we’ve ever seen have been revealed in the past week thanks to the James Webb telescope – the most powerful of its kind to ever be built.
The full set of colour images was published during a televised broadcast from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland last week.
The snaps gave space fans a look at small sections of the universe teeming with galaxies, stars and more.
They include incredibly detailed shots of an exploding star and a quintet of galaxies viewed in new light.
Nasa also revealed that the orbiting contraption has detected signs of water on a planet more than a thousand light-years away.
The “signature of water” was spotted on the giant gas planet WASP 96-b, which orbits a star in a distant galaxy.
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