Stunning New Photos From James Webb Telescope Capture 'Phantom Galaxy'

By Bill Galluccio

August 30, 2022

Newly released images captured by the James Webb Telescope provide a stunning look at the M74 galaxy, also known as the Phantom Galaxy.

The telescope's Mid-InfraRed Instrument was able to capture an unobstructed view of the star cluster at the center of the galaxy, which is around 32 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Pisces.

"This, coupled with its well-defined spiral arms, makes it a favorite target for astronomers studying the origin and structure of galactic spirals," the European Space Agency said in a blog post.

While scientists have previously studied the galaxy using the Hubble Telescope and other ground-based equipment, the James Webb Telescope's more precise instruments are providing new insights into the formation of the galaxy.

"The addition of crystal-clear Webb observations at longer wavelengths will allow astronomers to pinpoint star-forming regions in the galaxies, accurately measure the masses and ages of star clusters, and gain insights into the nature of the small grains of dust drifting in interstellar space," the post explained.

In another image, scientists combined data from both telescopes to provide even more details about the galaxy.

"The red colors mark dust threaded through the arms of the galaxy, lighter oranges being areas of hotter dust. The young stars throughout the arms and the nuclear core are picked out in blue. Heavier, older stars towards the galaxy's center are shown in cyan and green, projecting a spooky glow from the core of the Phantom Galaxy. Bubbles of star formation are also visible in pink across the arms. Such a variety of galactic features is rare to see in a single image," the ESA explained.

Photo: ESA/Webb
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