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19 Jaw-Dropping James Webb Space Telescope Images

Thanks to NASA's $10 billion telescope, the cosmos has never been more gorgeous, from nebulas and black holes to young star nurseries and cosmic collisions.

On July 12, 2022, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the most advanced telescope ever built, released its first image to the public. Since then, JWST has produced stunning image after stunning image that has mesmerised interested Earthlings everywhere with the wonder and majesty of the universe. Here are 19 of the best observations made by the telescope.

The Pillars of Creation

Since the Hubble Space Telescope first saw them in 1995, the towering pillars of creation—a vast expanse of sculpted gas and dust situated about 6,500 light-years from Earth in the Eagle Nebula—have become a well-known Milky Way landmark. The shimmering image of the iconic buildings captured by JWST may provide new information about the formation of stars and how they affect the surrounding space.

 Webb's deep field

The first image from JWST is also the most in-depth and meticulous picture of the universe ever taken. Thousands of younger galaxies whirl through the background as the bright cluster of galaxies at the image's centre magnifies the light of stars more than 13 billion light-years away.

The 'Phantom Galaxy'

The mysterious "Phantom Galaxy" is located about 32 million light-years from Earth and swirls through space like a celestial nautilus shell. Because the galaxy's spiral arms are so distinct and prominent, astronomers refer to it as a "grand design spiral."

'Mountains' of the Carina Nebula

This cosmic landscape painting of the Carina Nebula, which is about 7,600 light-years from Earth, was one of JWST's first images. This is one of the most active star-forming regions ever found, illuminated and shaped by the radiation of newborn stars.

Stephan's quintet

What happens when one region of space becomes too crowded is what is known as Stephan's Quintet, a collection of five tightly-bound galaxies that can be found 290 million light-years away in the Pegasus constellation. The stars between the four closely-knit galaxies are gradually warped and stretched as they dangerously dance past one another in close encounters.

 The Southern Ring nebula

The Southern Ring nebula, also known as the "Eight-Burst nebula" due to its figure-eight shape, is a massive cloud of gas and dust released by a dying star about 2,500 light-years away. JWST used two cameras to photograph the stellar cemetery, revealing more information about the nebula's gas structures in the left image and a hidden second star in the right image's center.

The Cartwheel Galaxy

About 500 light-years from Earth, in the aptly named Cartwheel Galaxy, is a stunning spiral galaxy shrouded in hot dust. It probably used to resemble the Milky Way quite a bit, but an old collision with a smaller galaxy gave it this distinctive wagon-wheel shape.

 Ghostly rings of Neptune

Although Neptune outperforms Saturn in this hazy JWST image, Saturn remains the undisputed poster child for planetary rings. Due to its location at the outermost point of the solar system, Neptune, the eighth planet from the sun, has five icy dust rings around it. They twinkle like crystals here.

Orion's sword

Some of the biggest and brightest stars in the sky can be found in the Orion constellation, which is only a few hundred light-years away from Earth. The Orion nebula, one of the largest and brightest star-forming regions in the sky, is hidden in Orion's infamous belt, which is ignored in this JWST image in favour of the constellation's sword.

A fiery hourglass

Within the constellation Taurus, a young star shoots streams of gas into the nearby dust clouds, forming a fiery hourglass.

The Tarantula Nebula

The Tarantula nebula, which is 340 light-years across, is a cosmic cavity carved out by young stars and surrounded by spindly legs of gas.

Eerie Einstein ring

Einstein rings are weird objects in deep space that resemble cosmic bullseyes. The eerily perfect circle is an illusion caused by warped space-time and is named after Albert Einstein, who postulated that massive objects in space could magnify or lens the light of objects far behind them.

'Bones' of a spiral galaxy

This cosmic tangle of gas, dust, and stars is a component of spiral galaxy IC 5332, which is more than 29 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Sculptor. Its spiral arms are very clearly visible because it sits almost exactly face-on to Earth.

Ghostly Pillars of Creation

In this demonstration of the mid-infrared instrument on JWST, the infamous Pillars of Creation are shrouded in a spectral shroud of dust. The stars concealed within the dust clouds aren't bright enough to appear for MIRI, creating a eerie and gloomy portrait in contrast to the earlier, more colourful view of the Pillars.

A galactic collision

IC 1623 is the name of a pair of colliding galaxies that cause a burst of star formation. The two galactic behemoths' centres may be experiencing a chaotic process that is producing a brand-new supermassive black hole.

 A 'knot' of galaxies in the early universe

A quasar, a massive, old black hole, is surrounded by no less than five galaxies. One of the oldest objects JWST has so far imaged is this cluster, which is situated 11.5 billion light-years away.

First direct image of an Exoplanet

The first ever photo of an exoplanet, or a planet outside of our solar system, was taken by JWST in this image. The planet, designated HIP 65426 b, is a gas giant that is 349 light-years away from Earth and up to 8 times more massive than Jupiter.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot

In this exceptional JWST image of our own solar system, Jupiter's Great Red Spot glows brilliantly. Europa, the moon of Jupiter, can be seen off to the left.

Starlight, star bright

Before JWST's official launch, this golden test image was taken, showing six points of light bursting from each star. Millions of distant galaxies are glowing in the background.

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