Into the Spider-Verse: A Giant Space Tarantula Was Captured by NASA’s Webb Telescope

In this mosaic image spanning 340 light-years, Webb’s near-infrared camera shows the star-forming region of the Tarantula Nebula in a new light. (NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/Webb ERO Production Team)

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PASADENA, Calif. — A giant space tarantula has been captured by a Webb — NASA’s highly sensitive James Webb Space Telescope, that is.

161,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, the Tarantula Nebula is nicknamed 30 Doradus, the “largest and brightest star-forming region in the Local Group, the galaxies closest to our Milky Way”, according to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Resembling the home line of a burrowing tarantula with its silk, it is home to the hottest and most massive stars known to astronomers, according to NASA.

The Webb Telescope’s near-infrared camera, also called NIRCam, helped researchers see the region “in a new light, including tens of thousands of never-before-seen young stars that were previously shrouded in cosmic dust,” according to NASA .

The denser surrounding areas of the nebula resist erosion by strong star winds, forming pillars that appear to point toward the cluster and hold the forming protostars.

These protostars emerge from their “dusty cocoons” and help shape the nebula. The Webb Telescope’s near-infrared spectrograph captured a very young star doing this, which changed astronomers’ previous beliefs about this star.

“Astronomers previously thought this star might be a bit older and already cleaning up a bubble around it,” according to NASA. “However, NIRSpec showed that the star was just beginning to emerge from its pillar and still maintained an insulating cloud of dust around it.

“Without Webb’s high-resolution spectra at infrared wavelengths, this episode of star formation in action could not have been revealed.”

Visualization through another Webb instrument that detects longer infrared wavelengths, and thus penetrates dust grains in the nebula, revealed a “cosmic environment never seen before”, NASA said – hot stars faded as the cooler gas and dust shone.

The Tarantula Nebula has long been a focus of astronomers studying star formation, as it has a similar chemical composition to the gigantic star-forming regions in the cosmic noon of the universe – when the cosmos n It was only a few billion years old and star formation was at its peak, according to NASA.

Since the star-forming regions of our galaxy do not produce stars at the same rate as the Tarantula Nebula and have a different chemical makeup, the Tarantula is the closest example of what happened. passed into the universe when it reached noon.

Capturing star formation in the Tarantula Nebula is just the latest discovery from NASA’s Webb Telescope.

Just a few days ago, NASA released great new pictures produced by the Webb Telescope and the Hubble Telescope featuring the Phantom Galaxy, a spiral of solar systems 32 million light-years from Earth. The galaxy is located in the constellation Pisces, according to the European Space Agency, which works with NASA on Hubble and Webb.

Webb launched on Christmas Day last year after decades of work to create the world’s largest, most sophisticated space telescope.

NASA first published Webb’s first high resolution images a few weeks ago in July.

Larger than Hubble, the telescope is capable of observing extremely distant galaxies, allowing scientists to learn more about early star formation. Hubble is in orbit around the Earth, but Webb orbits the sunabout 1 million kilometers from Earth.

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