James Webb got the most detailed photo of the galaxy with a double bar

The James Webb Space Telescope continues to send stunning images of the Universe, demonstrating that years of development and delays are worth the wait. The last photo came from astrophotographer Judy Schmidt, who processed the image of a spiral galaxy with a double bar NGC 1365, made by JWST. The galaxy is located at a distance of approximately 56 million light-years from us in the southern constellation of Fornax. As Schmidt notes, she processed the images using data provided by the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) research group.

Spiral galaxy with a double bar NGC 1365. Image authorship: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Judy Schmidt

The diameter of NGC 1365 is more than 200 thousand light-years, which is about twice as large as the Milky Way. The galaxy is known for the way its wide arms extend away from the central band, which gives it an original curved shape similar to the Latin letter Z. This galaxy was chosen for observations by James Webb because of its interesting shape and how much of its internal structure is hidden by dust. Thanks to the ability to observe in the infrared spectrum, JWST examined the galaxy in details that Hubble and VLT did not notice.

An image of NGC 1365 combining observations with the Danish 1.5-meter telescope at ESO La Silla Observatory in Chile. Authorship: ESO

Like many spiral star systems, NGC 1365 has a bar. This is the name of the structure crossing the galactic core, consisting of stars and interstellar gas. However, unlike most similar objects, this galaxy has an important feature. Two bars pass through its core at once — a large one and a small one. 

The image was obtained by the James Webb MIRI mid-infrared instrument and provides a new insight into the internal structure of this galaxy. The new photo includes a detailed overview of the central area and many smaller, thin sleeves extending from it. In the center, an active halo-shaped star formation region is visible, as well as illuminated dust around it.

A collage of Hubble NGC 1365 images in visible and infrared light. Authorship: NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Carallo (Columbia U)/STScI

NGC 1365 and the similarity to the Milky Way

NGC 1365 and other spiral galaxies with bars are of great interest to astronomers due to new observations that have shown that the Milky Way may be a spiral galaxy with a bar. It is estimated that such galaxies account for 75% of all spiral galaxies in the Universe, and their research can reveal details about the formation and evolution of our own. Given the advanced set of infrared optics, JWST is well suited for studying the nuclei of these galaxies and observing the forces driving things like star formation, supermassive black holes, relativistic jets, etc. 

Thanks to powerful mirrors, James Webb will study parts of the Universe that are mostly inaccessible to astronomy in visible light, such as star formation regions, protoplanetary disks from which planets arise, and the cores of active galaxies. The telescope will also pay attention to the center of our Galaxy, which is difficult to explore due to space dust. These observations will provide clues about the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*, the stars around it and the dense “galactic bulge” surrounding it.

Earlier we reported on how astronomers took pictures of the farthest visible object in the Universe.

According to Universetoday

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