Jan 29, 2024 - Science

In photos: "Extraordinary" Webb telescope images detail 19 spiral galaxies

Spiral galaxy NGC 1512 is 30 million light-years away in the constellation Horologium.

The spiral galaxy NGC 1512 is 30 million light-years away in the constellation Horologium, per NASA. Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford) and the PHANGS team

A "treasure trove" of images featuring 19 nearby spiral galaxies that the James Webb Space Telescope captured were released by NASA and partner agencies on Monday.

Why it matters: Scientists are studying the images and their analysis will "advance our understanding of star formation and the evolution of spiral galaxies," per a statement from the European Space Agency.

Hubble’s image of NGC 628 shows a densely populated face-on spiral galaxy anchored by its central region, which has a light yellow haze that takes up about a quarter of the view. The core is brightest at the center, washing out light from other objects. Delicate spiral arms start near the center and extend to the edges, rotating counterclockwise. There is more brown dust beginning at the center, but as the arms extend outward, brown dust lanes alternate with diffuse lines of bright blue stars. Throughout the spiral arms, there are bright pink patches of star-forming clusters.
NASA reports "Hubble's image of NGC 628 shows a densely populated face-on spiral galaxy anchored by its central region, which has a light yellow haze that takes up about a quarter of the view." Photo: NASA, STScI
Spiral galaxy NGC 1566 is 60 million light-years away in the constellation Dorado.
The spiral galaxy NGC 1566 is 60 million light-years away in the constellation Dorado. "Webb's new images are extraordinary," said Janice Lee, a project scientist for strategic initiatives at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, in a statement. Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford) and the PHANGS team
Webb Telescopes view face-on of spiral galaxy NGC 4254.
Webb Telescope's view face-on of spiral galaxy NGC 4254. The images are "mind-blowing even for researchers who have studied these same galaxies for decades," Lee said. Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford) and the PHANGS team
NGC 1433 is 46 million light-years away in the constellation Horologium.
The NGC 1433 is 46 million light-years away in the constellation Horologium, according to the European Space Agency. "Teams of researchers are studying these images to uncover the origins of these intricate structures," the ESA notes. Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, J. Lee (STScI), T. Williams (Oxford) and the PHANGS team

Flashback: Biden unveils first full-color photo from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

Go deeper