The James Webb telescope is back with some more beautiful images. This time, the telescope is looking at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, which illuminates the densest part of our environment in “unparalleled detail.” Specifically, the images were taken from a star-forming region called Sagittarius C, or Sgr C for short.
This place is about 300 light-years from the galaxy’s supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A, and more than 25,000 light-years from the little blue rock called Earth. All told, the region contains more than 500,000 stars and various clusters of protostars, which are stars that are forming and accreting. The end result? A strange cloud of chaos, especially compared to our region of space, which is so small in comparison.
In fact, the galactic center is the “most intense environment” in the Milky Way, according to University of Virginia professor Jonathan Tan, who assisted the observation team. There has not been any data in this region with this “level of resolution and sensitivity”, until now, thanks to the power of the Webb telescope.
At the center of it all is a massive protostar that weighs more than 30 times our sun. This actually makes the area seem less populated than it really is, because this solar object blocks the light from behind it, so even Webb can’t see all the stars in the region. So what you’re looking at is a conservative estimate of how crowded the place is. It’s like Times Square in space, minus the Guy Fieri restaurant (now.)
The data provided by these images will allow researchers to put current theories of star formation to the “most rigorous test.” For that purpose, Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument took large-scale emission imagery from ionized hydrogen, the blue in the lower part of the image. This is probably the result of young and massive stars emitting energetic photons, but the large size of the region has been a surprise to researchers, requiring further study.
The principal investigator of the observation team, Samuel Crowe, said that the research carried out and the future images will allow scientists to understand the behavior of large stars similar to “learning the origin story of most of the universe.”
Apparently this is not the first interesting image produced by the James Webb telescope. We saw stars being born in the constellation of Virgo, water around a comet in the main asteroid belt and a rather uncanny view of the Pillars of Creation, among others. It’s seen things you won’t believe and, luckily, it won’t all go away like tears in the rain because of the internet and because Webb is still around.
This article was originally featured on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/webb-telescope-images-show-an-unprecedented-and-chaotic-view-of-the-center-of-our-galaxy-185912370 .html ?src=rss