The jagged arms of the exquisitely designed spiral galaxy M51, known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, stretch across in this image from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.
Unlike galaxies with irregular or discontinuous spiral arms, large pattern spiral galaxies have prominent, well-developed spiral arms like the one shown in this image. This galactic image is a composite image that merges data from the Webb’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and the innovative Medium Infrared (MIRI) instrument.
In this image, the dark red regions trace the warm filamentous dust that permeates the center of the galaxy. The red regions show reprocessed light from the complex particles that form in dust grains, while the orange and yellow regions reveal regions of ionized gas in newly formed star clusters. The European Space Agency reports that stellar feedback has a major impact in the center of the galaxy, creating an intricate network of glowing knots as well as cavernous black bubbles.
M51, also known as NGC 5194 or the Whirlpool Galaxy, lies about 27 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Canes Venatici, and is caught in an uneasy relationship with its closest neighbor, the dwarf galaxy NGC 5195. These two galaxies make these neighboring galaxies One of the best-studied pairs of galaxies in the night sky. The gravitational influence of M51’s smaller companion is thought to be partly responsible for the majestic nature of the galaxy’s prominent, distinct spiral arms.
This observation of M51 by Webb is one of a series of observations titled “Feedbacks in Star Clusters of Emerging Extragalactic Stars,” or FEAST. The FEAST observations are designed to highlight the interplay between stellar reactions and star formation in environments outside our Milky Way galaxy. Stellar feedback is the term used to describe the flow of energy from stars into their formation environments, and is a critical process in determining the rate at which stars form. Understanding stellar feedback is vital to building accurate global models of star formation.
The goal of FEAST observations is to discover and study stellar nurseries in galaxies outside our Milky Way. Before Webb, other observatories such as the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in the Chilean desert and Hubble gave us an idea of star formation, both at the beginning (following the dense clouds of gas and dust where stars will form) (.stars) or after the stars destroyed their nascent clouds of gas and dust with their energy .
Webb opens a new window on the early stages of star formation and starlight, as well as the active reprocessing of gas and dust. Scientists are seeing for the first time star clusters emerging from their birth clouds in galaxies outside our own local group. They will also be able to measure how long it takes for these stars to become polluted with newly formed minerals and clean up the gas (these time scales vary from galaxy to galaxy).
By studying these processes, we will better understand how the cycle of star formation and mineral enrichment is regulated within galaxies, as well as what the time scales are for the formation of planets and brown dwarfs. The European Space Agency said in a statement that once the dust and gas are removed from newly formed stars, there will be no planet-forming material left.
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