James Webb Telescope captures 'breathtaking' images of Orion Nebula | Tech News

James Webb Telescope captures 'breathtaking' images of Orion Nebula

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has captured breathtaking images of the Orion Nebula thousands of light-years away from Earth.

By:AFP
| Updated on: Sep 15 2022, 15:41 IST
NASA: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter makes astonishing discovery
Orion Nebula
1/6 The lunar pits found by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have mild temperatures, drastically different from the extreme conditions on the surface of the Moon. The temperatures in these caves are nearly 17 degree Celsius almost at all times. (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)
Orion Nebula
2/6 NASA Moon recently tweeted, "Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images of pits indicate that the Moon has caves. Could they become astronaut habitats? Scientists have discovered that parts of the pits are always about 63°F (17°C), differing from extreme temperatures at the Moon's surface". (NASA)
Orion Nebula
3/6 The surface temperatures on the Moon can go from an extremely high 127 degrees Celsius and as low as -173 degrees Celsius. "The pits, and caves to which they may lead, would make thermally stable sites for lunar exploration compared to areas at the Moon's surface, which heat up to 260 F (about 127 C) during the day and cool to minus 280 F (about minus 173 C) at night,” NASA Moon tweeted further. (NASA)
Orion Nebula
4/6 First discovered in 2009, these lunar pits could potentially be used as location for a first Moon Base. Not only are the temperatures moderate, but these pits could also provide protection against cosmic rays, solar radiation and micrometeorites, according to NASA. (AP)
Orion Nebula
5/6 LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said, “Lunar pits are a fascinating feature on the lunar surface. Knowing that they create a stable thermal environment helps us paint a picture of these unique lunar features and the prospect of one day exploring them.” (NASA)
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6/6 The particular pit used to analyze the thermal properties by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was in an area of the Moon known as the Mare Tranquillitatis. It is 100-meters deep and as wide as a football field. According to scientists, the overhang of the pit is responsible for creating shadows on the Moon and maintaining a temperature of nearly 17 degrees Celsius at all times. (NASA)
Orion Nebula
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The Orion Nebula is situated in the constellation Orion, 1,350 light-years away from Earth. (AFP)

The wall of dense gas and dust resembles a massive winged creature, its glowing maw lit by a bright star as it soars through cosmic filaments.

An international research team on Monday revealed the first images of the Orion Nebula captured with the James Webb Space Telescope, leaving astronomers "blown away."

The stellar nursery is situated in the constellation Orion, 1,350 light-years away from Earth, in a similar setting in which our own solar system was birthed more than 4.5 billion years ago.

Astronomers are interested in the region to better understand what happened during the first million years of our planetary evolution.

The images were obtained as part of the Early Release Science program and involved more than 100 scientists in 18 countries, with institutions including the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Western University in Canada, and the University of Michigan.

"We are blown away by the breathtaking images of the Orion Nebula," Western University astrophysicist Els Peeters said in a statement.

"These new observations allow us to better understand how massive stars transform the gas and dust cloud in which they are born," she added.

Nebulas are obscured by large amounts of dust that made it impossible to observe with visible light telescopes, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, Webb's predecessor.

Webb however operates primarily in the infrared spectrum, penetrating the dust.

This revealed numerous spectacular structures, down to the scale of 40 astronomical units, or the size of our solar system.

These include dense filaments of matter, which could birth new generations of stars, as well as forming stellar systems that consist of a central proto-star surrounded by a disc of dust and gas, in which planets form.

"We hope to gain understanding about the entire cycle of star birth," said Edwin Bergin, University of Michigan chair of astronomy and a member of the international research team.

"In this image we are looking at this cycle where the first generation of stars is essentially irradiating the material for the next generation. The incredible structures we observe will detail how the feedback cycle of stellar birth occurs in our galaxy and beyond."

Webb is the most powerful space telescope ever built, boasting a primary mirror measuring 6.5 meters (more than 21 feet) that is made up of 18 hexagonal, gold-coated segments, as well as a five-layer sunshield the size of a tennis court.

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First Published Date: 15 Sep, 15:41 IST
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