Since its launch, the James Webb Space Telescope has done nothing but amaze us with the space where we live. From photographs of ghost galaxies, to an incredible view of two galaxies after colliding. His images have been a delight to the eye, and this recent capture of a cosmic tarantula is no exception.
Published by the NASA and ESA website, we can observe one of the most impressive captures of the space telescope to date. Here, some 161,000 light-years away from Earth, within the Large Magellanic Cloud, we find the Tarantula Nebula, also known as 30 Doradus. The image is incredible, as you can see, but it hides much more than a pretty face.
NASA has aimed the eyes of the James Webb at the Tarantula Nebula to study the birth of thousands of stars. After all, the agency often describes these celestial bodies as “star nurseries,” and with good reason. 30 Dorados is, he says, “the largest and brightest star-forming zone in the Local Group.” Plus, it’s home to some of the biggest and hottest we’ve ever been able to record.
The James Webb gives us another view of the Tarantula Nebula
30 Doradus observed with the MIRI instrument on James Webb – Image courtesy NASA
The James Webb has not only been able to capture the stars inside the Tarantula Nebula. The space telescope also was able to photograph the detailed structure and composition of gases and dust that make up it.
For it, has used its NIRCam, NIRSpec and MIRI instruments, each having a fairly specific job. Don’t worry, we’ve already explained what each one has done to obtain the images you’ve seen.
- NIRCam: The Near-Infrared Camera, or Near Infrared Camera, was responsible for capturing “the house of a burrowing tarantula,” says NASA. This cavity captured by the NIRCam has been hollowed out by radiation from a cluster of young stars, which can also be seen in a pale blue color. The densest areas of the nebula are the only ones capable of resisting this erosion by stellar winds, thus forming pillars with protostars inside. As they are born and grow, these stars will deform the rest of the nebula.
- NIRSpec: The Near-Infrared Spectrographor Near Infrared Spectrograph, captured a very young star doing exactly what was explained above. With this sensor, the James Webb observed how the celestial body gradually emerges from the dust, a process in which it will create a “bubble” around it due to its radiation.
- MIRI: The Mid-Infrared Instrument, or Mid-Infrared Instrument, brings to the fore another important element of the image. With her, the James Webb has been able to capture the gas and dust of the nebula, which become relevant as they are colder bodies, thus covering the heat of the stars. It is thanks to these dense clouds that these celestial bodies can be born and finish their development.
The Tarantula Nebula gives us a glimpse of the early universe
In addition to everything we have told you about, the Tarantula Nebula keeps a secret. Due to its composition, it has become one of the most interesting celestial objects for astronomers. The reason is that its chemical components are very similar to those found in star-forming regions of the early universe when it was just a few billion years old.
In this way, the Tarantula Nebula serves as a window into the past, showing what our universe could have looked like billions of years ago.