The inner region of the Orion Nebula as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam instrument.

Astronomers released a new image of the Orion Nebula on Monday from the James Webb Space Telescope.
Webb’s infrared cameras caught star-forming clouds and a cocoon of gas 1,350 light-years away.
Astronomers hope the new observations will help them understand how stars are born.

New James Webb Space Telescope images, released Monday, captured the most detailed and sharpest images ever taken of the Orion Nebula.

“We are blown away by the breathtaking images of the Orion Nebula. We started this project in 2017, so we have been waiting more than five years to get these data,” Els Peeters, a Western University astrophysicist who helped lead the observations, said in a press release.

“These new observations allow us to better understand how massive stars transform the gas and dust cloud in which they are born,” Peeters added.

The new images were released early and will now be studied by an international collaboration of more than 100 scientists in 18 countries, as part of a program known as PDRs4All.

The Orion Nebula is a massive star-forming region 1,350 light-years from Earth, making it the nearest stellar nursery to us. Dense clouds of cosmic dust in the nebula obscure star-forming structures from instruments that rely on visible light, like the Hubble Space Telescope. By gathering infrared light, Webb is able to peer through those layers of dust, giving astronomers unprecedented views of the nebula’s various components. 

Below, take a glimpse at structures Webb revealed that were previously enshrouded in dust.

Webb spots previously hidden star-forming threads
Hubble’s image, left, and Webb’s image, right of the Orion Nebula.

Astronomers believe nebula are clouds dominated by vast, tangled, thread-like structures, called filaments, which feed material like gas to form and fuel stars. Webb’s images reveal these gaseous threads in great detail.

“We clearly see several dense filaments. These filamentary structures may promote a new generation of stars in the deeper regions of the cloud of dust and gas,” Olivier Berné, a research scientist French National Centre for Scientific Research, who was part of the observations, said in a press release.

Still, the exact …read more

Source:: Business Insider


Side-by-side photos of the Orion Nebula show how powerful Webb’s infrared cameras are. They spot star-forming clouds and gas cocoons Hubble can’t see.

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