A bit more than a week passed since humanity’s most powerful space telescope revealed the first full-color photos of the Universe. A whole world was waiting for that glorious moment, and it was sure worth it! We’ve seen images containing Stephan’s Quintet, the SMACS 0723 cluster, the Carina Nebula, the Southern Ring Nebula, and also WASP-96b.
But James Webb is far from being done with providing amazing photos to the world! The telescope has also captured outstanding images of the NGC 628 galaxy, which is also known as the Phantom Galaxy or Messier 74. You’ll find out immediately why the galaxy is being compared to a phantom:
New @NASAWebb photos are the only thing keeping us going today! 😍
The first image is of NGC 628, also known as the Phantom Galaxy, and shows the galaxy's glowing dust in all its spooky detail.
📷: NASA/ESA/CSA/STSCI/JUDY SCHMIDT pic.twitter.com/0RglTdaKMo
— Lowell Observatory (@LowellObs) July 20, 2022
Located roughly 32 million light-years away from Earth and in the equatorial constellation Pisces, Messier 74 is also an old galaxy. It formed about 13.12 billion years ago, which means less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang. We’re also talking about a spiral galaxy.
French astronomer Pierre Méchain first discovered the Phantom Galaxy back in 1780. Charles Messier, another French astronomer, then listed the galaxy in his catalog.
Observing a bright planet and its satellites and rings was expected to be challenging, due to scattered light that may affect the science instrument employed, but also the fine guidance sensor must track guide stars near the bright planet,
These observations verified the expectation that guide star acquisition works successfully as long as Jupiter is at least 140″ away from the FGS, consistent with pre-flight modeling.
Astronomers and the whole scientific community hope to learn a lot more about the Universe than ever before through the observations of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The future already sounds pretty good!