James Webb photographs dust clouds in a nearby galaxy

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) photographed the irregular galaxy NGC 6822. The image shows the distribution of dust inside it.

Galaxy NGC 6822 (image by James Webb). Source: ESA

NGC 6822 is one of the Milky Way’s closest neighbors. It is an irregular galaxy located at a distance of 1.5 million light-years from Earth. NGC 6822 has a very low metallicity (the content of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium), which makes it an ideal natural laboratory for studying the processes in the early Universe. Among them are the evolution of stars and the life cycle of interstellar dust.

All this served as a motive for conducting observations of NGC 6822 using JWST. It photographed the galaxy using the NIRCam near-infrared camera and the MIRI mid-infrared camera. This approach allows astronomers to collect maximum information about the object of interest. MIRI is particularly sensitive to gas-rich regions (yellow vortices in the presented image), and NIRCam is suitable for observing dense fields of stars.

JWST observations made it possible to map the distribution of gas and dust inside NGC 6822. The image obtained by the telescope shows dense clusters of clouds in the center of the galaxy. In certain places, stars shine through them, as well as background galaxies.

It is worth mentioning that at one time NGC 6822 played a rather important role in the history of science. In the mid-1920s, this galaxy was actively studied by the outstanding astronomer Edwin Hubble (the famous telescope is named after him). It became the first object for which it was possible to prove that it was located outside our galaxy. This gave an end to the debate about whether the Universe extended beyond the Milky Way.

According to https://esawebb.org

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