Breathtaking Webb View of Tarantula Nebula Captures Details Never Seen Before


 Webb's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) displays the Tarantula Nebula star-forming region. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

A stellar nursery nicknamed the Tarantula Nebula has been just captured in crisp detail by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, revealing hitherto unseen features that deepen scientific understanding, the agency said Tuesday. 

Officially known as 30 Doradus, the region of space is characterized by its dusty filaments that look like the legs of a hairy spider, and has long been a favorite for astronomers fascinated in star formation. 


Thousands of young stars, distant background stunning galaxies, and the detailed structure of the nebula's gas and dust structures were viewable for the first time, big thanks to Webb's high-resolution infrared instruments. 


Webb works primarily in the infrared spectrum, because light from objects in the distant cosmos has been stretched into this wavelength over the path of the Universe's expansion. 


The telescope's primary imager, Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), detect the cavity in the center of the nebula was hollowed out by radiation carried on stellar winds emerging from a cluster of big young stars, which appear as pale blue dots. 


The mosaic image stretching 340 light-years across. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

Webb's Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), which examines light patterns to determine the composition of objects, caught one young star in the act of shedding a cloud of dust from around itself. 


The same star was previously belief to be at a later stage of formation, already well on the way to clearing its dusty bubble. 


The region was also imaged using the Mid-infrared Instrument (MIRI), which uses longer wavelengths of infrared to penetrate through dust grains that absorb or scatter shorter wavelengths. 


Just about 161,000 light-years away, Tarantula is a readily viewable example of this developing period of cosmic creation. 


JWST should also provide scientists the opportunity to look at distant galaxies from the actual era of the cosmic noon, and compare it to details of Tarantula, to understand similarities and differences. 


Operational since July, JWST is the most powerful space telescope ever built, with astronomers confident it will open up a new era of discovery. 

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