James Webb Telescope captured two young stars’ images. These two stars are Herbig-Haro 46/47 and covered in orange-white splotch.

Young Stars
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured a tightly bound pair of actively forming stars, known as Herbig-Haro 46/47, in high-resolution near-infrared light. Look for them at the center of the red diffraction spikes, appearing as an orange-white splotch. Herbig-Haro 46/47 is an important object to study because it is relatively young – only a few thousand years old. Star systems take millions of years to fully form. Targets like this give researchers insight into how much mass stars gather over time, potentially allowing them to model how our own Sun, which is a low-mass star, formed – along with its planetary system.
Credits: Image: NASA, ESA, CSA. Image Processing: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)

Webb Telescope Captures Stunning Images of Young Stars and Their Fiery Orange Lobes

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured fascinating images of two young stars, known as Herbig-Haro 46/47, in vivid near-infrared light. To spot them, just follow the bright pink and red spikes until you reach the center, where you’ll find the stars within the orange-white splotch. These stars are surrounded by a hidden disk of gas and dust that fuels their growth as they gain more mass.

What is so cool about the orange-white splotch in which these young stars are covered?

The coolest part is the fiery orange lobes that spread out on both sides from the center stars. This material was shot out from the stars as they swallowed and expelled gas and dust around them over thousands of years.

When the more recent ejections collide with older material, they shape these lobes differently, like turning a big fountain on and off randomly. This creates beautiful billowing patterns, and some jets release more material or move at higher speeds. Why does this happen? It’s probably because of the amount of material that fell onto the stars at specific times.

What are the key features observed in the recent ejections of the blue cloud of Herbig-Haro 46/47?

Let’s take a closer look at the stars’ recent ejections – they show up as thread-like blue lines just below the red spike at 2 o’clock. On the right side, these ejections form wavy patterns with breaks and end in a cool light purple circle within the thick orange area. On the left, we can see lighter blue, curly lines, though sometimes they’re hidden by the bright red spike.

These jets play a crucial role in star formation because they control how much mass the stars gather. The stars are surrounded by a small disk of gas and dust, like a tight band tied around them.

The Effervescent Blue Cloud: Let’s Know More About it!

Now, check out the second most prominent feature: the effervescent blue cloud. It’s a dense region of dust and gas, also known as a Bok globule. In visible light, it appears almost entirely black, but the James Webb Space Telescope’s near-infrared image lets us see through the hazy layers of the cloud. This reveals more of Herbig-Haro 46/47 and even shows distant stars and galaxies beyond it. You’ll notice the nebula’s edges in a soft orange outline, forming a backward L shape along the right and bottom.

What is the significance of the material ejected by young stars in the process of star formation?

The lobes we see are made up of material that the stars once swallowed from the dusty disk around them and then later expelled into space. These ejections play a vital role in the process of star formation. Picture them like a fountain, quickly turning on and off, creating beautiful patterns in the cosmic pool. Once these young stars finish growing, they will bring order to this chaotic scene.

In the background, you can’t help but notice the vast collection of stars and galaxies scattered across our universe. Each one, whether old or new, big or small, holds its significance in the vast expanse we call home.

What does the vast collection of stars and galaxies reveal about our universe?

Galaxies offer insights into the organization of matter on cosmic scales, providing valuable information to comprehend the universe’s nature and history. Scientists analyze both the present arrangement and the changes in organization across cosmic time to gain a deeper understanding of these fundamental processes.

What is the significance of the nebula in shaping the jets from the central stars?

Let’s explore the significance of the nebula in shaping the jets from the central stars. When the ejected material collides with the nebula on the lower left, it creates opportunities for the jets to interact with molecules in the nebula, causing both to light up.

Now, look at two other areas to compare the lobes’ asymmetry.

  • In the upper right, you’ll notice a blobby, sponge-shaped ejecta that appears separate from the larger lobe. Only a few semi-transparent wisps of material point toward the larger lobe, and there are almost transparent, tentacle-like shapes drifting behind it, like cosmic streamers.
  • On the lower left, beyond the hefty lobe, you’ll find an arc. Both the blob and the arc consist of material pushed farthest, possibly from earlier ejections. The arcs seem to point in different directions, suggesting they may have come from different outflows.

Take a closer look at the image. Although it seems like Webb captured Herbig-Haro 46/47 edge-on, one side is slightly closer to Earth, surprisingly the smaller right half. The left side, even though it’s larger and brighter, is pointing away from us.

Why Webb Space Telescope’s image of this cosmic nebula is so exceptional?

Throughout millions of years, the stars in Herbig-Haro 46/47 will fully form. And the stunning, colorful ejections we see now will eventually disappear. The binary stars will then become the main focus against a background filled with galaxies.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals such intricate details of Herbig-Haro 46/47 for two reasons.

  1. Firstly, the object is relatively close to Earth.
  2. Secondly, the telescope’s image is a combination of multiple exposures, adding depth to the picture.

Located 1,470 light-years away in the Vela Constellation, Herbig-Haro 46/47 is a cosmic nebula—a huge cloud of dust and gas. JWST’s special capabilities allow us to see through this haze and study what’s inside. Which is providing the most detailed portrait of these stars to date. The nebula is the reason why the stars’ jets appear to light up. As ejected material collides with the nebula on the lower left, it takes on wider shapes due to interactions with molecules within the nebula.

The image we have now is a sparkling spectacle, worth more than a thousand words. Even with all the information we’ve discussed, astronomers believe there’s still so much more to learn. They also believe about how stars form from this extraordinary picture.

James Webb Telescope identified three objects and named as “dark stars”. What are they? And how are they different from ordinary stars? Let’s dig into the deep details and uncover valuable information.

Enigmatic Dark Stars- Exploring Celestial Bodies

Over the last 15 years, researchers have dedicated their efforts to uncovering proof of a unique type of celestial body that has long been theorized but remains unseen: a star that derives its energy not from atomic fusion like traditional stars, including our sun, but from an enigmatic entity called dark matter. The first good candidates for “dark stars” have been detected thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope’s ability to see back to the beginning of the cosmos.

The three objects found by Webb, which was launched in 2021 and began collecting data last year, were initially identified last December as some of the universe’s earliest-known galaxies but may instead be massive black stars, according to astronomers.

Dark Stars Captured by Webb Telescope
These three objects were identified by the James Webb Space Telescope Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) in December 2022. NASA/ESA/Handout via REUTERS

Now, you must be thinking about what these dark stars depict and what is the actual connection to the dark matter! If so, please continue reading!

Unveiling the Mysterious Connection to Invisible Dark Matter

Dark matter, an invisible substance whose presence is known primarily by its gravitational effects on a galactic scale, would be a minor but critical component of dark stars. These stars are claimed to be almost entirely made of hydrogen and helium, the two elements that existed in the early universe, with dark matter accounting for 0.1% of their mass. Their engine, however, would be self-annihilating dark matter.

We are unable to detect dark matter because it cannot emit or directly interact with light. However, it is estimated that it accounts for approximately 85% of all weight in the universe. The remaining 15% consists of ordinary matter, including familiar objects like stars, planets, gas, dust, and everyday items such as pizza and people found on Earth.

Aside from this, if you think that dark stars are DARK! Then we suppose you might be wrong. Let’s find out how!

Dark Stars are Giants with Big Masses and Brightness

Dark stars have the astounding potential to amass a mass surpassing the sun by at least a millionfold, while their luminosity could exceed a billion times, leaving a blazing trail of light in their wake. These colossal celestial bodies possess a diameter approximately ten times the vast expanse between Earth and the sun.

Katherine Freese, a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin and senior author of the research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said:

“They’re big puffy beasts,”

Freese added:

“They are made of atomic matter and powered by the little bit of dark matter that’s inside them,”

Unlike conventional stars, they would be able to grow mass by absorbing gas from space.

Colgate University astrophysicist and study lead author Cosmin Ilie said:

“They can continue to accrete the surrounding gas almost indefinitely, reaching supermassive status.”

Additionally, they also uncover crisp knowledge about ancient enigmas and valuable information on cosmic origins. In the next paragraph, we will see about it.

They are Ancient Enigmas Challenging Cosmic Origins

They would not have been as hot as the first generation of regular stars in the universe. The nuclear fusion that took place in the centers of those stars created elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.

The three hypothetical black stars are too young in the universe’s history, with one occurring 330 million years after the Big Bang event 13.8 billion years ago and the others occurring 370 million and 400 million years afterward.
Based on the Webb data, these objects could be either early galaxies or dark stars.

Freese said:

“One supermassive dark star is as bright as an entire galaxy so that it could be one or the other.”

Dark Stars & Cosmic Mysteries? HOW?

While there is not enough data to make a definitive judgment about these three, Freese said, Webb may be able to obtain fuller data on other similarly primordial objects that could provide “smoking gun” evidence of a dark star.
During the nascent stages of the universe, the prevailing circumstances might have been conducive to the emergence of enigmatic entities known as dark stars.

These celestial formations could have arisen due to the presence of substantial concentrations of dark matter near regions rich in hydrogen and helium, where star formation was taking place.

In 2008, Freese and two colleagues postulated the existence of dark stars, naming them after the 1960s Grateful Dead song “Dark Star.”

Freese said:

“It would be super exciting to find a new type of star with a new kind of heat source. It might lead to the first dark matter particles being detected. And then you can learn about the properties of dark matter particles by studying a variety of dark stars of different masses.”

In the next part of the blog, we will be answering some of the commonly asked questions about dark stars that will continue your thoughts.

What is a dark star called?

In astronomy, there are three different concepts referred to as “dark stars.” The first type, under Newtonian mechanics, is a star with an exceptionally powerful gravitational force, leading to the trapping of light according to Newton’s theory of gravity.

The second type involves dark matter, where a star is heated through the process of annihilation of dark matter particles that occur within its core. Lastly, a dark-energy star is an object primarily composed of dark energy and exhibits external similarities to a black hole in appearance. These distinct dark star phenomena present fascinating areas of study within the realm of astrophysics.

What is a dark star made of?

These stars are characterized by their composition, consisting mainly of hydrogen and helium, the two predominant elements during the early universe. Remarkably, they contain a mere 0.1% of their mass in the form of dark matter. However, what sets them apart is that their source of energy is attributed to the process of self-annihilating dark matter.

Is A black hole a dark star?

In the cosmic journey of stars exceeding three solar masses, an inevitable fate awaits them. After the cessation of thermonuclear reactions, they are destined to transform into what is known as a “dark star” or, more commonly, a “black hole.” This term, “black hole,” was coined by the physicist John Wheeler, who comprehensively described these enigmatic objects as entities where no known source of pressure can counterbalance their immense gravitational force.

From our cosmic backyard in the solar system to faraway galaxies near the beginning of time, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has done what it said it would in its first year of science operations to show us the universe as we’ve never seen it before. NASA shared a picture of small Sun-like stars forming an area in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex taken by Webb to mark the end of a successful first year.

Sun-like stars
The first-anniversary image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope displays star birth like it’s never been seen before, full of detailed, impressionistic texture. The subject is the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex, the closest star-forming region to Earth. It is a relatively small, quiet stellar nursery, but you’d never know it from Webb’s chaotic close-up. Jets bursting from young stars crisscross the image, impacting the surrounding interstellar gas and lighting up molecular hydrogen, shown in red. Some stars display the telltale shadow of a circumstellar disk, the makings of future planetary systems. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Klaus Pontoppidan (STScI)

What were the perspectives on Webb after the Sun-like stars’ discovery?

Scientists had a realization of how Webb has altered the way humans perceive the solar system. Bill Nelson, who is in charge of NASA, said;

“In just one year, the James Webb Space Telescope has changed how people see the universe. For the first time, they can look into dust clouds and see light from faraway parts of the universe. Every new image, such as Sun-like stars, is a discovery that lets scientists worldwide ask and answer questions they could never have thought of before.” 

First of all, let’s have a look at Webb before discussing Sun-like stars. Webb is an investment in American innovation and a science achievement made possible by NASA’s foreign partners who share a can-do attitude and want to push the limits of what is possible. Thousands of engineers, scientists, and leaders have dedicated their lives to this goal, and their work will continue to help us learn more about the world and where we fit in it.

Webb is one of the most appreciated tools for space scientists

On the first anniversary of its launch, Nicola Fox, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said,

“The James Webb Space Telescope has already lived up to its promise to reveal the universe. It has given us a breathtaking treasure trove of images and science that will last for decades.” 

“Webb is an engineering marvel built by the best scientists and engineers in the world. It has given us a deeper understanding of galaxies, stars, and the atmospheres of planets outside of our solar system, setting the stage for NASA to lead the world into a new era of scientific discovery and the search for habitable worlds.”

Klaus Pontoppidan was the Webb project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, from before the telescope’s launch until the end of its first year of operation. once said;

“Webb’s picture of Rho Ophiuchi gives us a clearer look at a very short time in the life of a star. Our own Sun went through something similar a long time ago. Now we have the technology to see the beginning of another star’s story,” 

Sun-like stars
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has produced the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail. Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

How was the image of Sun-like stars the Webb captures?

Webb’s picture of Sun-like stars shows an area with about 50 young stars, all about the same size as the Sun or smaller. Where there is a lot of dust, where protostars are still forming, it is darkest and densest. Huge bipolar jets of molecular hydrogen, shown in red, dominate the image. They stretch across the top third of the picture horizontally and vertically on the right.

When a star first breaks through its birth covering of cosmic dust, it sends a pair of opposite jets into space, just like a baby does when she stretches her arms out for the first time. In the lower part of the picture, the star S1 has made a bright cave out of dust. Among all other Sun-like stars, it’s the only star in the notion much bigger than the Sun.

The new Webb picture today shows the Sun-like star-forming area closest to us. It is only 390 light-years away, so we can closely see it because no stars are in the way. Some of the stars in the picture have shadows that point to protoplanetary disks, which are possible planetary systems in the making. In this picture from the Webb telescope, the galaxies look like bright, shining spots; some are blurry because of gravitational lensing. The shape of Webb’s mirrors makes the stars in the center look hopeful with six-pointed diffraction spikes.

The popularity of Webb captured images of Sun-like stars

Webb has kept its promise to show us more of the universe than ever before. Its first deep field picture was shown live at the White House by President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Nelson. But Webb showed us much more about the early universe than faraway galaxies; Sun-like stars by Webb are an example.

Eric Smith, associate director for research in the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters and Webb program scientist, said;

“Now that we have a year’s worth of data from targets all over the sky, it’s clear how many kinds of science Webb can look into. Webb’s first year of science has taught us new things about our universe and shown that the telescope can do more than we thought it could. This means that future discoveries like Sun-like stars will be even more amazing.”

The science community worldwide has spent the last year looking over Webb’s first public data and figuring out how to use it.

How can Webb be useful for space study?

Scientists are most excited about Webb’s precise spectra, the specific information that can be taken from light by the telescope’s spectroscopic equipment. Webb’s scopes have proven the distances of some of the farthest galaxies ever seen and found the oldest and most distant supermassive black holes. It has discovered more about the atmospheres of planets (or the lack of atmospheres) than ever before.

They have also cut down what kinds of atmospheres may exist on rocky exoplanets for the first time. And they have also found the chemical makeup of Sun like stars nurseries and protoplanetary disks by finding water, biological molecules with carbon in them, and other things. Webb’s observations have led to hundreds of science studies that answer questions that have been around for a long time and raise new questions for Webb to answer.

What is Webbs’s significance regarding life on the planet Earth?

Webb’s views of our solar system, including Sun-like stars, the part of space we know best, also show its broad science. Webb shows faint rings of gas giants with moons out of the darkness. In the background, Webb shows galaxies that are very far away. By comparing the water and other chemicals in our solar system to those in the disks of other, much younger planetary systems, Webb is helping to figure out how Earth became the perfect place for life as we know it.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Webb Senior Project Scientist Jane Rigby said,

“After a year of science, we know exactly how powerful this telescope is, and we’ve delivered spectacular data and discoveries.” 

“For year two, we’ve chosen a set of bold observations that build on everything we’ve learned so far. Webb’s science mission is just getting started. There is so much more to come.”

TRAPPIST-1 c Atmosphere’s Analysis

A team of scientists from around the world used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to calculate the amount of heat energy emitted by TRAPPIST-1 c, a rocky exoplanet. The findings indicate that, if there is indeed an atmosphere, it is remarkably tenuous.

This artist’s concept shows what the hot rocky exoplanet TRAPPIST-1 c could look like based on this work. TRAPPIST-1 c, the second of seven known planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system, orbits its star at a distance of 0.016 AU (about 1.5 million miles), completing one circuit in just 2.42 Earth days. TRAPPIST-1 c is slightly larger than Earth but has around the same density, which indicates that it must have a rocky composition. Webb’s measurement of 15-micron mid-infrared light emitted by TRAPPIST-1 c suggests that the planet has either a bare rocky surface or a very thin carbon dioxide atmosphere.
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

TRAPPIST-1 c, with a dayside temperature of approximately 380 kelvins, currently holds the record for being the coolest rocky exoplanet characterized by thermal emission. The accuracy required for these measurements showcases the effectiveness of the Webb telescope in analyzing rocky exoplanets similar in size and temperature to those within our solar system.

The recent breakthrough in research marks a momentous stride in unraveling the mystery of whether planets circling diminutive red dwarfs such as TRAPPIST-1, the most abundant kind of stars in our galaxy, can sustain life-sustaining atmospheres akin to what we recognize.

Clues to Atmospheric Composition

Sebastian Zieba, a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and the lead author of the published results in Nature, stated, “We want to know if rocky planets have atmospheres or not. In the past, we could only really study planets with thick, hydrogen-rich atmospheres. With Webb, we can finally start to search for atmospheres dominated by oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide.”

TRAPPIST-1 c is one of seven rocky planets orbiting an ultracool red dwarf star, approximately 40 light-years away from Earth. The presence of similar size and mass notwithstanding, the question of whether these planets possess atmospheres akin to the inner rocky planets in our solar system remains shrouded in uncertainty. During the initial billion years of their existence, M dwarfs emit intense X-ray and ultraviolet radiation capable of stripping away a young planetary atmosphere. In addition, it’s possible that not enough water, carbon dioxide, or other volatile chemicals were present during the planets’ creation to support significant atmospheres.

TRAPPIST- 1 c, the Venus Twin

Laura Kreidberg, also from Max Planck and a co-author, explained, “TRAPPIST-1 c is interesting because it’s essentially a twin of Venus: it shares a similar size and receives a comparable amount of radiation from its host star as Venus does from the Sun. We speculated that it could possess a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere akin to Venus.”

To address these inquiries, the team employed Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) to observe the TRAPPIST-1 system on four separate occasions as the planet passed behind the star, resulting in a secondary eclipse. The team determined the amount of mid-infrared light, specifically at 15 microns, emitted by the planet’s dayside by comparing the brightness when the planet is beside the star (combining light from the star and planet) with the brightness when the planet is behind the star (representing only starlight).

Rocky Exoplanet
This light curve shows the change in brightness of the TRAPPIST-1 system as the second planet, TRAPPIST-1 c, moves behind the star. This phenomenon is known as a secondary eclipse. Astronomers used Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) to measure the brightness of mid-infrared light. When the planet is beside the star, the light emitted by both the star and the dayside of the planet reaches the telescope, and the system appears brighter. When the planet is behind the star, the light emitted by the planet is blocked and only the starlight reaches the telescope, causing the apparent brightness to decrease.
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

This methodology mirrors the approach employed by another research group to determine that TRAPPIST-1 b, the innermost planet in the system, likely lacks any atmosphere. A planet’s amount of mid-infrared radiation is strongly related to its temperature, which is determined by the composition of its atmosphere. Carbon dioxide gas selectively absorbs 15-micron light, causing the planet to appear dimmer at that wavelength. However, clouds can reflect light, making the planet appear brighter and concealing the presence of carbon dioxide.

Furthermore, a substantial atmosphere of any composition would redistribute heat from the dayside to the nightside, resulting in a lower dayside temperature than would be observed without an atmosphere. TRAPPIST-1 c is thought to be tidally locked, with one side always in the light and the other always in the dark, as it orbits its star nearby (about 1/50th the distance between Venus and the Sun).

TRAPPIST- 1 c’s Carbon Dioxide Cover

Although these initial measurements do not provide definitive information about the nature of TRAPPIST-1 c, they help narrow down the potential possibilities. Zieba noted, “Our results are consistent with the planet being a barren rock with no atmosphere, or the planet possessing an extremely thin CO2 atmosphere (thinner than Earth or even Mars) devoid of clouds. If the planet had a thick CO2 atmosphere, we would have observed a very shallow secondary eclipse or none at all. This is because the CO2 would absorb all the 15-micron light, and we wouldn’t detect any coming from the planet.”

Moreover, the data suggest that TRAPPIST-1 c is unlikely to be a true Venus analog with a thick CO2 atmosphere and sulfuric acid clouds.

Habitable Atmospheres In TRAPPIST-1

The absence of a dense atmosphere implies that the planet may have formed with minimal water. If the other cooler, temperate TRAPPIST-1 planets formed under similar conditions, they might also have started with limited amounts of water and other essential components required for a habitable planet.

The sensitivity required to differentiate between various atmospheric scenarios on such a distant and small planet is genuinely remarkable. The decrease in brightness detected by Webb during the secondary eclipse was merely 0.04 percent, akin to observing a display of 10,000 small light bulbs and noticing that only four have extinguished.

This graph compares the measured brightness of TRAPPIST-1 c to simulated brightness data for three different scenarios. The measurement (red diamond) is consistent with a bare rocky surface with no atmosphere (green line) or a very thin carbon dioxide atmosphere with no clouds (blue line). A thick carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere with sulfuric acid clouds, similar to that of Venus (yellow line), is unlikely. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

Kreidberg expressed her awe, stating, “It is extraordinary that we can measure this. There have been questions for decades now about whether rocky planets can retain atmospheres. Webb’s capabilities truly allow us to compare exoplanet systems to our solar system in a way we have never been able to before.”

Web Telescope Insights

This research was conducted as part of Webb’s General Observers (GO) program 2304, one of the eight programs dedicated to fully characterizing the TRAPPIST-1 system during Webb’s first year of scientific operations. The full orbits of TRAPPIST-1 b and TRAPPIST-1 c will be observed in a follow-up examination in the future year, according to researchers. They will be able to track temperature fluctuations on the day and night sides of the two planets, which will provide them with more information about the existence or lack of atmospheres.

You will be surprised to know that astounding revelations have emerged as researchers, harnessing the remarkable capabilities of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, uncovered a captivating phenomenon: a captivating water vapor plume emanating from Saturn’s enchanting moon, Enceladus.

This remarkable plume stretches a staggering distance of over 6,000 miles, equivalent to the approximate span between the vibrant cities of Los Angeles, California, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Water Vapor Volcanic Plume

Webb is providing scientists with a first-ever direct view of how this water emission feeds the water supply for the entire Saturnian system and its rings.

In a monumental stride for scientific discovery, never before have we witnessed such a captivating spectacle—a water emission water vapor plume of this magnitude stretching across an expansive distance.

Enceladus, a captivating oceanic world measuring a mere 313 miles in diameter and roughly 4% of Earth’s size, stands as an exceptionally alluring scientific pursuit within our solar system when it comes to the quest for alien life.

A vast pool of salty water sits between the moon’s rocky core and frozen outer surface. Informally known as “tiger stripes,” geyser-like volcanoes spray jets of ice particles, water vapor, and organic compounds out of the moon’s surface.

Observatories had previously measured moon jets hundreds of kilometers away, but Webb’s extraordinary sensitivity exposes a new story.

Saturn’s moon Enceladus
In this image, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope shows a water vapor plume jetting from the southern pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, extending out 20 times the size of the moon itself. The inset, an image from the Cassini orbiter, emphasizes how small Enceladus appears in the Webb image compared to the water plume.
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and G. Villanueva (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center). Image Processing: A. Pagan (STScI).

A lead author Geronimo Villanueva of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “

“When I was looking at the data, at first, I was thinking I had to be wrong. It was just so shocking to detect a water plume more than 20 times the size of the moon,”

He also said that,

 “The water vapor plume extends far beyond its release region at the southern pole.”

What are the Plumes on Europa?

New research suggests that the potential plumes observed on Jupiter’s moon Europa, which may consist of water vapor venting into space, could originate from within the moon’s icy crust.

Scientists have been theorizing about the source of these intriguing plumes, and this recent study introduces a novel possibility.

Instead of being sourced from beneath the crust or from an underground ocean, the plumes could arise from the water present within Europa’s icy crust itself.

This discovery adds a new dimension to our understanding of the moon’s geology and the mechanisms that drive these mysterious eruptions into space.

The researchers were interested in more than just the plume’s length. It is also very astonishing how quickly the water vapor is erupting—about 79 gallons per second.

At this pace, we’d have an Olympic-sized swimming pool filled in no time. On our beloved Earth, achieving the same feat with a garden hose would take over two weeks.

Are water plumes spraying from Europa NASA’s Europa Clipper is on the case?

Scientists caution that detecting water vapor plumes on Europa, Jupiter’s moon, will be challenging, even with close proximity. The world was captivated in 2005 when images revealed a spectacular watery plume erupting from the surface of Enceladus, Saturn’s moon.

Throughout its decade-long exploration of the Saturnian system, the Cassini orbiter captured the first images of Enceladus’s plumes and even flew through them to collect samples of their constituent materials.

While Cassini’s position within the Saturnian system gave it invaluable insights into this far-off moon, Webb’s singular view from the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 2 and the astounding sensitivity of its Integral Field Unit aboard the NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph) Instrument is providing new context.

Villanueva said,

“The orbit of Enceladus around Saturn is relatively quick, just 33 hours. As it whips around Saturn, the moon and its jets are basically spitting off water, leaving a halo, almost like a donut, in its wake,”

He also said that,

“In the Webb Observations, not only was the plume huge, but there was just water absolutely everywhere.”

Now, let’s have a look on the Saturn ring, and see if it has any water vapor, and the reasons behind its existing.

Water Vapor Plume on Saturn’s Ring:

The dense “E-ring,” Saturn’s outermost and broadest ring, is present with the fuzzy torus of water that was observed to be “everywhere.”

The Webb observations clearly show how the torus is fueled by the moon’s water vapor plumes. According to an analysis of the Webb data, only around 30% of the water in this torus escapes, supplying the remaining 70% of the water in the Saturnian system.

Webb will be the main observatory for the ocean moon Enceladus in the coming years, what causses water vapors plume and findings from Webb.

It will help guide future solar system satellite missions that will try to investigate the depth of the underlying ocean, the thickness of the ice crust, and other things.

Water Vapor Plume
In this image, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s instruments are revealing details into how one of Saturn’s moon’s feeds a water supply to the entire system of the ringed planet. New images from Webb’s NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph) have revealed a water vapor plume jetting from the southern pole of Enceladus, extending out more than 20 times the size of the moon itself. The Integral Field Unit (IFU) aboard NIRSpec also provided insights into how the water from Enceladus feeds the rest of its surrounding environment.
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Leah Hustak (STScI)

“Right now, Webb provides a unique way to directly measure how water evolves, and caused water vapor plume and changes over time across Enceladus’ immense plume, and as we see here, we will even make new discoveries and learn more about the composition of the underlying ocean,” added co-author Stefanie Milam at NASA Goddard.

“Because of Webb’s wavelength coverage and sensitivity, and what we’ve learned from previous missions, we have an entire new window of opportunity in front of us.”

Guaranteed Time Observation (GTO) program 1250 was used to conclude Webb’s observations of Enceladus.

This program’s first objective is to showcase Webb’s expertise in a certain scientific field and lay the groundwork for further research.

What the Research of Water Vapor Plume Actually Depicts?

Let’s conclude the above mentioned research by the quote of Heidi Hammel. He is an Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Webb interdisciplinary scientist and leader of the GTO program.

“This program was essentially a proof of concept after many years of developing the observatory, and it’s just thrilling that all this science has already come out of quite a short amount of observation time,” 

The galactic merger of Arp 220, has recently been featured in a stunning image taken by NASA’s forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope. Arp 220 is an ultra-luminous infrared galaxy. It emits over a trillion suns’ worth of luminosity. This galaxy is a remarkable example of intense star formation. The collision of two spiral galaxies triggered this phenomenon. The collision began about 700 million years ago. It led to the formation of around 200 massive star clusters. The Webb telescope has released a new image of Arp 220. It shows faint tidal tails and organic material in streams and filaments. The image also reveals evidence of the ongoing galactic dance.

So let’s start by,

What is Arp 220?

Arp 220 is a 250 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation Serpens, is the ultra-luminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG). It is a spectacular merging pair of spiral galaxies that began colliding around 700 million years ago. As a result of this collision, approximately 200 large star clusters have formed and are located within a congested, dusty area spanning 5,000 light-years. Arp 220 shines in the light of more than a trillion suns and is the nearest ULIRG to us and the brightest of the three galactic mergers closest to Earth. The entire Milky Way galaxy’s worth of gas is visible in this minuscule area.

A huge explosion of star creation resulted from the collision of two spiral galaxies some 700 million years ago. As a result, a densely packed, dusty region formed, roughly 200 large star clusters spanning approximately 5,000 light-years. Furthermore, the collision between these two spiral galaxies created around 200 huge star clusters, starting some 700 million years ago. Additionally, the region measured 5,000 light-years across and was crowded and dusty. Notably, this small area contains as much gas as the entire Milky Way galaxy does.

The galaxy has been studied previously by radio telescopes, which revealed about 100 supernova remnants, and by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which uncovered the cores of the parent galaxies. Webb recently captured Arp 220 with its Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). The image reveals the stunning beauty of the galactic merger in infrared light. Moreover, the faint tidal tails and organic material in streams and filaments across Arp 220.

One more thing that might pop up in your head,

Has Arp 220 Been Captured Before? A Look at Past Observations of this Remarkable Object

The latest photo from the James Webb Space Telescope offers a new and intriguing view of Arp 220. This object has already been studied extensively in the past, but has remained a captivating subject for astronomers for many years. Arp 220 is one of the nearest and brightest examples of a galaxy experiencing a significant burst of star formation.

It is an extremely bright infrared galaxy that may be found around 250 million light-years away in the Serpens constellation. As a result, this object has attracted the attention of numerous telescopes over the years to solve its secrets.

The Hubble Space Telescope made a significant observation of Arp 220.  This exposed an intricate web of filaments and bubbles in the galaxy’s surrounding gas and dust. This image also showed evidence of two merging galaxies at the center of Arp 220. This was later confirmed by subsequent observations.

Despite these earlier observations, the recent image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope provides a much clearer view of Arp 220 and reveals details that were previously unseen.

Now let’s discuss the,

Webb’s imaging of Arp 220:

NASA’s newest and most potent space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, beautifully depicted the Arp 220 cosmic collision between two spiral galaxies in a photograph. This stunning collision ignited a burst of star formation, resulting in a dazzling display of over a trillion suns shining in infrared light.

The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on the Webb telescope caught this galaxy merger in unparalleled detail. A rotating ring of star formation surrounds each of the galactic cores. Which is emitting brilliant infrared light and produces a striking spiked starburst characteristic. The image shows blue tidal tails drawn off by gravity, revealing the galactic dance. Arp 220 displays streams and filaments of reddish-orange colored organic material.

Lastly, let’s conclude this with,


The James Webb Space Telescope’s amazing image gives us a peek at the breathtaking and awe-inspiring magnificence of our cosmos. It displays the impressive capabilities of this amazing observatory and what we might anticipate learning in the upcoming years. We may be certain that we will explore and uncover the beauty of space as long as we have space technology like JSWT.


Published by: Sky Headlines

The NASA James Webb Space Telescope captured a stunning image on Feb. 6, 2023, of Uranus, an ice-giant planet, revealing its bright cloud and faint extended features beyond the polar cap. “Icy” materials make up the planet, which has 13 known rings and 27 known moons. The image shows 11 visible rings and the wide-view image highlights the six brightest moons. This image provides scientists with valuable insight into the planet’s storm activity and composition. With its sensitivity and longer wavelengths, Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) has revealed new details of Uranus Rings and Moons that have not been seen with other powerful telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope and Keck Observatory. The James Webb Space Telescope can do much more, and scientists plan to conduct further studies of Uranus during the first year of Webb’s science operations.

Uranian system
This wider view of the Uranian system with Webb’s NIRCam instrument features the planet Uranus as well as six of its 27 known moons. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI. Image processing: J. DePasquale (STScI)

First, let’s find out,

What do we know about Uranus so far?

Uranus is one of the outermost planets in our solar system, known for its unique tilt and blue-green appearance. This gas giant also boasts an impressive collection of moons and rings. Scientists have named 27 moons orbiting Uranus after characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. People named Uranus’ moons differently from those of other planets, which mostly have names based on Greek and Roman mythology. Roughly equal amounts of water ice and rock compose the inner moons of Uranus, while we do not know the composition of the outer moons. Astronomers believe that asteroids likely captured the outer moons.

Moreover, Uranus has two distinct sets of rings, which consist of narrow, dark grey rings in the inner system and a reddish innermost ring, and a blue outermost ring. Zeta, 6, 5, 4, Alpha, Beta, Eta, Gamma, Delta, Lambda, Epsilon, Nu, and Mu are the rings in order of distance from the planet. The outermost ring is similar in appearance to Saturn’s E ring. Some of the larger rings are surrounded by belts of fine dust, and the exact composition and origin of the rings remain a topic of research.

Now, let’s dig into,

What have scientists observed in Webb’s new image?

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope recently captured a remarkable image of Uranus Rings and Moons. The image shows the planet’s dramatic rings and features in its atmosphere. Moreover, The image also demonstrates Webb’s unparalleled sensitivity for faint dusty rings. 

The image shows that Uranus has 13 known rings, 11 of which are visible in the image. Nine of these are considered the planet’s main rings, while the remaining two are the fainter dusty rings that were discovered during the 1986 Voyager 2 flyby. Future Webb images of Uranus are expected to reveal the two faint outer rings discovered in 2007 with the Hubble telescope. Additionally, Webb’s image captures many of Uranus’ 27 known moons, with the six brightest ones identified in the wide-view image. It was only a short 12-minute exposure image of Uranus with two filters, and scientists anticipate that Webb will be able to reveal more about this mysterious planet.

Extreme Seasons on Uranus:

Scientists consider Uranus an ice giant because of its interior’s chemical makeup. Scientists believe that a hot, dense fluid of “icy” materials like water, methane, and ammonia exists above a small rocky core, making up the majority of its mass. The planet is unique in that it rotates on its side, causing extreme seasons since its poles experience years of constant sunlight followed by years of complete darkness.

The image was taken in late spring at the northern pole, which means that summer on Uranus won’t arrive until 2028. The planet’s atmosphere is dynamic, and its polar cap is unique. The polar cap seems to appear when the pole enters direct sunlight in the summer and vanishes in the fall. The Webb image reveals an unexpected feature of the polar cap, a subtly enhanced brightening at its center. Other powerful telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope and Keck Observatory have not clearly seen this feature.

Webb’s image of Uranus is significant because it provides more details about the planet’s rings, moons, and atmosphere. The sensitivity and longer wavelengths of Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) make it possible to see more details and reveal surprising aspects of the planet’s polar cap. Webb’s observations of Uranus will help scientists understand the planet’s mysteries and provide more insight into ice giants like Uranus. 

Now, you probably might be wondering,

Has Uranus ever studied like this before?

Yes, Uranus has been studied extensively in the past using ground-based telescopes and the Voyager 2 spacecraft, which made a close flyby of the planet in 1986. The James Webb Space Telescope recently captured an image of Uranus with unprecedented detail and sensitivity in the infrared wavelengths, which can reveal features not seen before. Two other facilities, the Voyager 2 spacecraft and the Keck Observatory, have imaged the faintest dusty rings around Uranus. The new image also shows the observatory’s sensitivity to these rings. So, while Uranus has been studied before, the James Webb Space Telescope’s capabilities allow for a new level of understanding and discovery of this mysterious planet.

Lastly, we should conclude,

On the whole:

The recent image of Uranus captured by the James Webb Space Telescope is a reminder of the beauty and wonder that exists beyond our planet. This new information provides scientists with valuable insight into the planet’s storm activity and composition. It’s amazing to think about the technology and advancements that make such discoveries possible. We are just scratching the surface of uncovering the mysteries that fill the universe. . Scientists are eager to push the boundaries of their knowledge and venture into uncharted territories. Who knows what we will see tomorrow!


Published by: Sky Headlines

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has enabled an international team of researchers to determine the temperature of TRAPPIST-1 b, a rocky exoplanet. The measurement of temperature relies on the planet’s emission of thermal energy. It is in the form of infrared light that the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) of the Webb telescope detected de. The team’s findings reveal that TRAPPIST-1 b has a dayside temperature of around 500 kelvins (roughly 450 degrees Fahrenheit). It suggests that it lacks a substantial atmosphere. This groundbreaking discovery represents the first detection of light emitted by an exoplanet as small and cool as those found in our solar system. An important milestone is determining the potential of planets orbiting small active stars. Like TRAPPIST-1, to maintain the necessary atmospheres to sustain life. Furthermore, this discovery highlights the potential of Webb’s MIRI to characterize temperate, Earth-sized exoplanets.

Astrophysicist Thomas Greene is the lead author of the study. At NASA’s Ames Research Center, he says, “These observations take advantage of Webb’s mid-infrared capability,”. Moreover, he said: “No previous telescopes have had the sensitivity to measure such dim mid-infrared light.”

TRAPPIST-1 b's temperature
Credits: Illustration: NASA, ESA, CSA, J. Olmsted (STScI); Science: Thomas Greene (NASA Ames), Taylor Bell (BAERI), Elsa Ducrot (CEA), Pierre-Olivier Lagage (CEA)

Before we go further, let’s discuss,

Rocky Planets Orbiting Ultracool Red Dwarfs:

In early 2017,  astronomers reported the discovery of seven rocky planets orbiting an ultracool red dwarf star located 40 light-years from Earth. These planets are noteworthy because their size and mass are similar to our solar system’s inner, rocky planets. Even though they all orbit much closer to their star than any of our planets orbit the Sun, they receive comparable amounts of energy from their small star. Despite being outside the habitable zone of the TRAPPIST-1 system, TRAPPIST-1 b receives a significantly high amount of energy from its star. It is due to its close orbital distance. Observations of this planet can provide valuable insights into the other planets in the system and other ultracool red dwarf systems.

Elsa Ducrot, a co-author affiliated with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in France, was part of the team that conducted previous research on the TRAPPIST-1 system. Ducrot contributed to the discussion by stating: “It’s easier to characterize terrestrial planets around smaller, cooler stars. If we want to understand habitability around M stars, the TRAPPIST-1 system is a great laboratory. These are the best targets for looking at rocky planets’ atmospheres.”

Ok, we should know this as well;

Why and how did the research team measure the temperature of TRAPPIST-1 b?

Previous studies of TRAPPIST-1 b using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes failed to detect any indication of a puffy atmosphere. Still, they could not conclusively eliminate the possibility of a dense one. To reduce the uncertainty, measuring the planet’s temperature was deemed necessary. “This planet is tidally locked, with one side facing the star at all times and the other in permanent darkness,” explained Pierre-Olivier Lagage from CEA, one of the co-authors of the study. “If it has an atmosphere to circulate and redistribute the heat, the dayside will be cooler than if there is no atmosphere.” The research team employed the technique of secondary eclipse photometry, using MIRI to measure the variation in brightness from the system as the planet moved behind the star.

While TRAPPIST-1 b does not emit visible light, it does radiate an infrared glow. By subtracting the star’s brightness during the secondary eclipse from the combined brightness of the star and planet, the team was able to accurately determine the amount of infrared light that the planet produced.

temperature of TRAPPIST-1 b
Credits: Illustration: NASA, ESA, CSA, J. Olmsted (STScI); Science: Thomas Greene (NASA Ames), Taylor Bell (BAERI), Elsa Ducrot (CEA), Pierre-Olivier Lagage (CEA)

Now, let’s find out;

What is the significance of detecting a secondary eclipse using the Webb telescope?

Detecting a secondary eclipse using Webb is a significant achievement. Given that the star’s brightness is over 1,000 times greater than the planet’s, resulting in a change in brightness that is less than 0.1%.

Taylor Bell analyzed the data.  He is a post-doctoral researcher at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute. He clarified: “There was also some fear that we’d miss the eclipse. The planets all tug on each other, so the orbits are not perfect”. Moreover, he says: “But it was just amazing: The time of the eclipse that we saw in the data matched the predicted time within a couple of minutes.”

This study was carried out as a component of the Webb Guaranteed Time Observation (GTO) program 1177, one of the eight programs aimed at thoroughly characterizing the TRAPPIST-1 system during Webb’s first year of operation. Additional observations of TRAPPIST-1 b during secondary eclipses are underway. Now that the team has gained insights into the quality of data that can be obtained. They aim to capture a complete phase curve showing the variation in brightness throughout the planet’s orbit. Observing the temperature changes from day to night will enable them to verify whether the planet has an atmosphere.

Lagag, worked on developing the MIRI instrument for more than two decades. He says: “There was one target that I dreamed of having,” Moreover, he said: “And I dreamed of this. This is the first time we can detect the emission from a rocky, temperate planet. It’s a significant step in the story of discovering exoplanets.”


Published by: Sky Headlines

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has detected silicate cloud features in the atmosphere of a distant exoplanet called VHS 1256 b, which is located about 40 light-years away from us. VHS 1256 b is a planetary-mass object that orbits not one but two stars over 10,000 years. The atmosphere of this exoplanet is very dynamic, constantly mixing and moving during its 22-hour day. This makes it the most variable planet-size object ever discovered.

The research team, led by Brittany Miles of the University of Arizona, used data from JWST. This data help them to identify water, methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere. This is the largest number of molecules ever discovered at once on an extrasolar planet. They also detected both larger and smaller silicate dust grains in the planet’s atmosphere. These findings provide insights into the planet’s weather and atmospheric dynamics.

Exoplanet (VHS 1256 b)
Credits: Illustration: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

But first, find out

What is VHS 1256 b?

VHS 1256 b is an exoplanet located about 40 light-years away from Earth. This planet orbits two stars and is one of the most variable planetary-mass objects ever observed. Its atmosphere is constantly changing, and it has swirling, gritty silicate clouds that are so surprising that they create significant brightness changes. Using the JSWT, researchers were able to detect a range of molecules in VHS 1256 b’s atmosphere. Molecules include water, methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide.

Professor A Biller of the University of Edinburgh says: There’s a huge return on a very modest amount of telescope time,” She added. “With only a few hours of observations, we have what feels like the unending potential for additional discoveries.”

Compared to other brown dwarfs with greater mass, VHS 1256 b exhibits lower gravity, allowing its silicate clouds to persist at higher altitudes where they can be observed. Moreover, the planet is relatively youthful, originating 150 million years ago. Over billions of years, it will continue to alter and cool. Exoplanet has already revealed many amazing facts about their atmosphere and environment. Scientists are still analyzing the data gathered by the James Webb Space Telescope.

A researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Beth Biller says: “The finer silicate grains in its atmosphere may be more like tiny particles in smoke”. Moreover, she said: “The larger grains might be more like very hot, very small sand particles.”

Exoplanet Atmosphere
Credits: Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, J. Olmsted (STScI); Science: Brittany Miles (University of Arizona), Sasha Hinkley (University of Exeter), Beth Biller (University of Edinburgh), Andrew Skemer (University of California, Santa Cruz

Now, the question here is

How has JSWT observed this exoplanet?

The researchers used two instruments aboard the James Webb Space Telescope. One of which is called the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec). The second one is the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), to gather data known as spectra. Because VHS 1256 b orbits at a great distance from its two stars, the researchers were able to observe the planet directly without having to use a technique called a transit, which involves observing the dip in brightness of a star when a planet passes in front of it, or a coronagraph, which blocks the light of the star to reveal fainter objects nearby. This direct observation allowed for a more detailed analysis of the exoplanet’s atmosphere and the molecules presents within it.

Now come to the point,

What is the significance of this observation?

The observation of VHS 1256 b has provided scientists with a wealth of data about the planet’s atmosphere. Particularly about the composition and behavior of its clouds. This is significant because the study of exoplanet atmospheres is a key area of research in understanding the origins of our solar system and the possibility of life beyond it. Observing VHS 1256 b has allowed researchers to identify multiple features in the planet’s atmosphere simultaneously. This data will serve as a valuable resource for future modeling efforts.  Moreover, it will help scientists better understand the atmospheric conditions on exoplanets.

A research team led by Brittany Miles of the University of Arizona says: “We’ve identified silicates, but better understanding which grain sizes and shapes match specific types of clouds is going to take a lot of additional work,” He added: “This is not the final word on this planet – it is the beginning of a large-scale modeling effort to fit Webb’s complex data.”

The findings have opened up new avenues for research and highlighted the power of the James Webb Space Telescope in exploring the mysteries of the universe. Andrew Skemer, an Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz says: “No other telescope has identified so many features at once for a single target,” Moreover, he explains: “We’re seeing a lot of molecules in a single spectrum from Webb that detail the planet’s dynamic cloud and weather systems.”


Published by: Sky Headlines

On February 28, 2023, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) mission tweeted about its latest observation of a galaxy, which included three separate photos. The JWST’s capacity to capture such breathtaking imagery continuously amazes and captivates both scientists and space enthusiasts.

JWST captures Supernova in Gravitational Lens
Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, P. Kelly

How does the JWST take three photographs of the same object at the same time?

This is done through gravitational lensing, when a large celestial body bends or twists light.  This happens most often around stars like our Sun, but it can also occur around extremely distant, enormous galaxies. The gravitational lens of RX J2129 bends and splits light from a supernova-hosting galaxy into three pictures.

As a result of the galaxy cluster RX J2129 distorting and bending its light, a supernova-containing galaxy appears in three distinct images. About 3,2 billion light-years from Earth is where you’ll find this cluster of galaxies. Because light had to travel different distances to generate each image, astronomers have determined that the images all seem different because of their different ages and characteristics.

Type IA supernova!

Astronomers say that the earliest photograph of the potential supernova, AT 2002riv is a Type IA supernova. Two similar lines on either side of it provide supporting evidence for this claim. When we took another picture of the faraway galaxy 320 and 1000 days later, we found that the supernova was no longer visible. The brightness of type IA supernovae is useful for determining huge cosmic distances.

The European Space Agency explains: “The almost uniform luminosity of a Type IA supernova could also allow astronomers to understand how strongly the galaxy cluster RX J2129 is magnifying background objects, and therefore how massive the galaxy cluster is,” It continues: “As well as distorting the images of background objects, gravitational lenses can cause distant objects to appear much brighter than they would otherwise. If the gravitational lens magnifies something with a known brightness, such as a Type IA supernova, then astronomers can use this to measure the ‘prescription’ of the gravitational lens.”

Gravitational Lens
Credit: NASA, ESA & L. Calcada

Gravitational lensing!

Gravitational lensing is when a massive celestial body’s gravitational force causes distant object’s light to appear bent or distorted from a specific angle. This creates a cosmic lens that enables astronomers to see objects located behind the massive object. As it passed through RX J2129. the light from a galaxy with a supernova bent and split into three images.

In 1979, gravitational lensing split light from a distant object, proving Einstein’s general relativity theory. Gravitational microlensing finds exoplanets, while this effect studies supernovae. In 1979, the JWST captured two quasars that had been gravitationally lensed.  JWST’s gravitational lensing will reveal how many supernovae and other insights it finds. This justifies the persistence of scientific investigation.


Published by: Sky Headlines