An Astronomical Tarantula is Captured by NASA's Webb Space Telescope

Sep, 2022 - By WMR

An Astronomical Tarantula is Captured by NASA's Webb Space Telescope

This 340 light-year-wide mosaic picture was obtained by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) onboard the Webb Space 

Telescope. It presents the star-forming area of the Tarantula Nebula in a new way, revealing tens of thousands of newborn stars that have never been seen before and were previously hidden by cosmic dust. The most active region appears pale blue and sparkles with enormous young stars. Red stars that are still entrenched and have not yet broken out of the nebula's dusty cocoon are strewn among them. Due to NIRCam's unrivalled resolution at near-infrared wavelengths, it is possible to identify these stars that are veiled in dust.

A big elder star at the top of the nebula's cavity visibly exhibits NIRCam's signature eight diffraction spikes, an artefact of the instrument. This star's top centre spike virtually identifies a unique bubble in the cloud by pointing upward. This bubble is being blown by young stars that are still encircled by dust and are starting to carve out their own cavities. In order to examine this region more closely and ascertain the chemical composition of the star and its surrounding atmosphere, astronomers employed two of Webb's spectrographs. Astronomers can determine the nebula's age and the number of star birth generations it has experienced using this spectral data.

The colder gas takes on a red hue as it gets further away from the zone of bright, young stars, indicating to scientists that the nebula is rich in complex hydrocarbons. Future stars will be created from this dense gas. 

A portion of the gas and dust some of which are pushed aside by the massive stars' winds will gather and generate fresh stars via gravity.

A team from the University of Arizona and Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center created NIRCam.

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