James Webb and Hubble combine to capture a stunning image of a galaxy cluster
The powerful James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope together imaged visible and infrared light to create one of the most comprehensive views of the universe ever.
The image focuses on an expanding galaxy cluster known as MACS0416, located about 4.3 billion light-years from Earth.
MACS0416 is a pair of colliding galaxy clusters that will eventually merge to form a larger cluster.
The image includes a large group of galaxies outside the cluster and a group of sources that vary with time, most likely due to gravitational lensing – the distortion and amplification of light from distant background sources.
This was the first of a set of unprecedented, ultra-deep views of the universe from Hubble’s ambitious and collaborative program called Frontier Fields, which opened in 2014.
Webb’s infrared vision greatly enhances this deep view by going further into the early universe with its infrared vision.
“We are building on Hubble’s legacy by pushing into greater distances and fainter objects,” says Rogier Windhorst of Arizona State University, principal investigator of the PEARLS (Principle Extragalactic Regions for Reionization and Lensing Science) program, which took Webb’s observations.
The findings are detailed in two research papers: one published in Astronomy and astrophysicsOthers are accepted for publication Astrophysical Journal. Besides contributing to the aesthetic appeal, the images also serve a specific scientific purpose, which is to search for objects that vary in observed brightness over time, known as transients. The team combined the three observation periods, each separated by weeks, with a fourth period from the CANUCS (Canadian Unbiased Cluster Survey (NIRISS) research team.
They identified 14 of these transients across the field of view. 12 of these transients were located in three galaxies that are highly amplified by gravitational lensing, and are likely single stars or multi-star systems that are briefly highly amplified.
The remaining two transients are located within much larger background galaxies and are likely to be supernovae.
“We call MACS0416 the Christmas Tree Cluster because it is so colorful and because of these faint lights that we find inside it,” said Haojing Yan of the University of Missouri in Columbia, lead author of one of the papers. “We can see the transients everywhere.” Description of scientific results.
WEB is an international program led by NASA with its partners the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency. Hubble is managed by both NASA and the European Space Agency.
The above article was published from a news agency with minor edits to the title and text.