Star Formation in Merging Galaxies, This interacting galaxy system is particularly bright at infrared wavelengths, making it an ideal proving ground for NASA/ESA/CSA Webb’s ability to study luminous galaxies.

Galactic Collision Webb Space Telescope Explores Frenzied Star Formation in Merging Galaxies

A team of astronomers captured IC 1623 across the infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum using a trio of Webb’s cutting-edge scientific instruments: MIRI, NIRSpec, and NIRCam. In so doing, they provided an abundance of data that will allow the astronomical community at large to fully explore how Webb’s unprecedented capabilities will help to unravel the complex interactions in galactic ecosystems. Star Formation in Merging Galaxies, These observations are also accompanied by data from other observatories, including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and will help set the stage for future observations of galactic systems with Webb. The merger of these two galaxies has long been of interest to astronomers,

In fact, it has previously been imaged by Hubble and by other space telescopes. The ongoing, extreme starburst causes intense infrared emission, and the merging galaxies may well be in the process of forming a supermassive black hole. A thick band of dust has blocked these valuable insights from the view of telescopes like Hubble. However, Webb’s infrared sensitivity and its impressive resolution at those wavelengths allows it to see past the dust and has resulted in the spectacular image at the top of this article, which is a combination of MIRI and NIRCam imagery. Star Formation in Merging Galaxies, The luminous core of the galaxy merger turns out to be both very bright and highly compact, so much so that Webb’s diffraction spikes appear atop the galaxy in this image. The 8-pronged, snowflake-like diffraction spikes are created by the interaction of starlight with the physical structure of the telescope. The spiky quality of Webb’s observations is particularly noticeable in images containing bright stars, such as Webb’s first deep field image.

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