- NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captured a stunning image of the heart of the Milky Way.
- The chaotic region appears brilliantly colorful, glittering with the light of 500,000 stars.
- The telescope can view infrared light and allows scientists to observe never-before-seen features.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured a colorful, glittering image of the chaotic center of the Milky Way galaxy, revealing never-before-seen details that could help scientists understand more about the origin of the universe.
NASA released the stunning new image on Monday, showing a star-forming region called Sagittarius C that lies at the heart of the Milky Way, about 25,000 light-years away from Earth.
Thanks to JWST’s ability to capture infrared light, scientists were able to identify never-before-seen details at the Milky Way’s core.
“The image from Webb is stunning, and the science we will get from it is even better,” Samuel Crowe, the principal investigator on the project, said in the press release. “Massive stars are factories that produce heavy elements in their nuclear cores, so understanding them better is like learning the origin story of much of the universe.”
The agency estimates that there are 500,000 stars in the picture, and at the very center is a fiery cluster of still-forming protostars, which produce “outflows that glow like a bonfire in the midst of an infrared-dark cloud,” according to NASA’s press release.
The bright blue section of the photo is a huge emission of ionized hydrogen that results from young massive stars spewing out energetic photons, NASA said. And within the wisps of blue are needle-like structures that shoot out in all directions without rhyme or reason, according to the agency.
The sheer size of the cyan-colored region was somewhat of a surprise to scientists, who need to investigate further, NASA said.
“The galactic center is a crowded, tumultuous place. There are turbulent, magnetized gas clouds that are forming stars, which then impact the surrounding gas with their outflowing winds, jets, and radiation,” Rubén Fedriani, who worked on the project, said in NASA’s press release.
“Webb has provided us with a ton of data on this extreme environment, and we are just starting to dig into it,” he added.