The galaxies are 500 million light years away, in the constellation of the Dolphin.
A pair of merging galaxies 500 million light-years away in the constellation Dolphin, known to astronomers as II ZW 96 , stars in this infrared image from the James Webb Space Telescope .
In addition to the wild whirlwind of merging galaxies , a collection of background galaxies is dotted throughout the image.
Hang out long enough and you start to become each other…just ask these galaxies.
In Webb’s latest image, two galaxies in the process of merging are twisting each other out of shape. Bright tendrils of star-forming regions connect their glowing cores: https://t.co/X1HBrCSjxu pic.twitter.com/JbUS35F90O
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) November 30, 2022
unraveling the image
The two galaxies are in the process of merging and, as a result, have a chaotic and disturbed shape. The bright nuclei of the two galaxies are connected by bright tendrils of star-forming regions, and the spiral arms of the lower galaxy have been deformed by the gravitational perturbation from the galaxy merger .
It is these star-forming regions that made II ZW 96 such a tempting target for James Webb ; The galaxy pair is particularly bright at infrared wavelengths thanks to the presence of star formation, the ESA reports.
This observation comes from a collection of measurements by Webb that delve into the details of galactic evolution, particularly in luminous near-infrared galaxies like II ZW 96 .
These galaxies , as the name suggests, are particularly bright at infrared wavelengths, with luminosities more than 100 billion times that of the Sun. An international team of astronomers proposed a study of complex galactic ecosystems, including merging galaxies in II ZW 96 , to put Webb to the test shortly after the telescope was commissioned.
His chosen targets have already been observed with ground-based telescopes and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, which will provide astronomers with insight into Webb’s ability to unravel the details of complex galactic environments.
The telescope captured this image with a pair of its state-of-the-art instruments; NIRCam, the near-infrared camera, and MIRI, the mid-infrared instrument. (Europe Press)