Another achievement of the James Webb Space Telescope. His powerful vision in the infrared spectrum has uncovered thousands of previously undetected stars in formation in the Tarantula Nebula. Within the Large Magellanic Cloud, just 161,000 light-years away, the Tarantula Nebula is the largest and brightest star-forming region of the Local Group, the closest galaxies to the Milky Way, making it one of the favorite of astronomers to observe this process.
New eyes on the universe: the secrets hidden in the images of the James Webb telescope
The James Webb, released last December 25aimed its instruments at that nebula, also called 30 Doradus, where in addition to young stars it revealed the existence of distant background galaxies, as well as the detailed structure and composition of the nebula's gas and dust.
The image of the nebula taken by the near infrared camera (NIRCam) is reminiscent of the home of a burrowing tarantula, lined with its silk, as described by the European Space Agency (ESA), which participates with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency in The telescope. "Reveals details of the structure and composition of the nebula, as well as background galaxies," they indicate from the NASA Twitter account.
This Webb caught a giant space tarantula! 🕸️ Take a moment to stare into thousands of never-before-seen young stars in the Tarantula Nebula. @NASAWebb reveals details of the structure and composition of the nebula, as well as background galaxies: https://t.co/DZePgDpPEH pic.twitter.com/aSmPDqgKTE
— NASA (@NASA) September 6, 2022
The cavity of the nebula, which can be seen in the center of the image, is due to scorching radiation from a cluster of massive young stars, which glow pale blue in the image. The denser surrounding areas of the nebula are the only ones that resist erosion by the powerful stellar winds of young stars, forming pillars containing forming protostars, which will eventually break out of their dusty envelope to form the nebula.
The near infrared spectrograph (NIRSpec) captured, for its part, a star that is beginning to emerge from its pillar and that still had an insulating cloud of dust around it. Without Webb's high-resolution spectra at infrared wavelengths, this star-forming episode in action could not have been revealed, ESA said.