The James Webb Space Telescope, positioned at Lagrange Point 2 in the Sun-Earth system, has just captured a stunning image of a crowded field of galaxies. The large spiral galaxy, named LEDA 2046648, is located over a billion light-years away in the Hercules constellation and is surrounded by a profusion of smaller distant galaxies.
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Webb’s near-infrared camera (NIRCam) took the image during instrument calibration and helped test the telescope’s ability to uncover galactic “fossils.” The world’s most powerful observatory is specifically designed to observe distant galaxies in the early universe and understand their formation, evolution, and composition.
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Not only does Webb’s keen infrared vision allow it to peer back in time by observing light from distant galaxies that has been redshifted towards infrared wavelengths, but it also has the capability to probe the chemical composition of thousands of galaxies to shed light on the formation of heavy elements and their build-up as galaxies evolved.
Nasa states that comparing these distant galaxies with those in the local universe will help astronomers comprehend the growth and formation of the structure we see today. The James Webb Space Telescope recently conducted a comprehensive analysis of the deepest, coldest ice measured in the universe, identifying various icy ingredients that are essential for making future generations of stars and planets.