Another masterstroke for James-Webb with this composite image of a surprising wheel-shaped galaxy. The penetrating view of the powerful space telescope shows never-before-seen details of this galaxy which collided about 400 million years ago. What do they show us? The image of the Chariot Wheel galaxy taken by Hubble in 2007 and revisited in 2018 had us all amazed by the beauty and complexity of this ring-shaped galaxy distorted by a violent collision. Observations in the visible and ultraviolet by the famous space telescope delighted astronomers with the details of its outer crown, set ablaze by the birth of a multitude of stars, the active central region and the spokes of its wheel, curved in spiral, which resisted the shock. This time, the different view of James-Webb, in the infrared, offers an in-depth knowledge of this galaxy in interaction located 500 million light years from Earth. We thus discover, not without fascination and vertigo, what the researchers did not see before, or so badly: the skeleton of dust and gas of ESO 350-40 (its real name), as well as the effervescence of its hole central black. A very active galaxy In the distant past, this so-called Chariot Wheel galaxy resembled our own, the Milky Way, sporting a spiral shape like a vortex, until interactions with other members of its group galaxy led it to a high-speed collision with a galaxy, here located out of frame. This was about 400 million years ago, and now we admire and study what results from it, the evolution, the changes in its morphology and the population of stars under the influence of shock waves on dust clouds. The two concentric rings are like the waves created on the surface of the water after the throwing of a pebble. The larger wave forms a sparkling crown of young stars whose matrixes have been fertilized by the violent compression of matter. The spectacle is even more vivid within the inner ring and at the very heart of the galaxy, visibly in full effervescence, as shown by the piercing sight of James-Webb which reveals clusters of stars once hidden by the thick veils of dust. The composite image that combines observations from Miri and Nircam also allows fine details of nearby galaxies to be seen and a multitude of other galaxies to be flushed out, scattered in the background over billions of light-years . A dazzling spectacle, “and this is still only the beginning”. Interested in what you have just read?
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