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The NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s reveals a portion of the Milky Way’s dense core in a new light. An estimated 500,000 stars shine in this image of the Sagittarius C (Sgr C) region, along with some as-yet unidentified features. A large region of ionized hydrogen, shown in cyan, contains intriguing needle-like structures that lack any uniform orientation.NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and S. Crowe (University of Virginia) A star-forming region, named Sagittarius C (Sgr C), is seen in exceptional detail in this image from Nov. 20, 2023, thanks to the Near-Infrared Camera instrument on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. An estimated 500,000 stars shine in this image of the Sgr C region, along with some never-before-seen features astronomers have yet to explain.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and S. Crowe (University of Virginia)
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4 Min Read NASA’s Webb Reveals New Features in Heart of Milky Way
Sagitarius C (NIRCam) Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and S. Crowe (University of Virginia). The latest image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope shows a portion of the dense center of our galaxy in unprecedented detail, including never-before-seen features astronomers have yet to explain. The star-forming region, named Sagittarius C (Sgr C), is about 300 light-years from the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*.
Image: Sagitarius C (NIRCam)
The NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s reveals a portion of the Milky Way’s dense core in a new light. An estimated 500,000 stars shine in this image of the Sagittarius C (Sgr C) region, along with some as-yet unidentified features. A large region of ionized hydrogen, shown in cyan, contains intriguing needle-like structures that lack any uniform orientation.NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and S. Crowe (University of Virginia). “There’s never been any infrared data on this region with the level of resolution and sensitivity we get with Webb, so we are seeing lots of features here for the first time,” said the observation team’s principal investigator Samuel Crowe, an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “Webb reveals an incredible amount of detail, allowing us to study star formation in this sort of environment in a way that wasn’t possible previously.”
“The galactic center is the most extreme environment in our Milky Way galaxy, where current theories of star formation can be put to their most rigorous test,” added professor Jonathan Tan, one of Crowe’s advisors at the University of Virginia.
Amid the estimated 500,000 stars in the image is a cluster of protostars – stars that are still forming and gaining mass – producing outflows that glow like a bonfire in the midst of an infrared-dark cloud. At the heart of this young cluster is a previously known, massive protostar over 30 times the mass of our Sun. The cloud the protostars are emerging from is so dense that the light from stars behind it cannot reach Webb, making it appear less crowded when in fact it is one of the most densely packed areas of the image. Smaller infrared-dark clouds dot the image, looking like holes in the starfield. That’s where future stars are forming.
Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument also captured large-scale emission from ionized hydrogen surrounding the lower side of the dark cloud, shown cyan-colored in the image. Typically, Crowe says, this is the result of energetic photons being emitted by young massive stars, but the vast extent of the region shown by Webb is something of a surprise that bears further investigation. Another feature of the region that Crowe plans to examine further is the needle-like structures in the ionized hydrogen, which appear oriented chaotically in many directions.
“The galactic center is a crowded, tumultuous place. There are turbulent, magnetized gas clouds that are forming stars, which then impact the surrounding gas with their outflowing winds, jets, and radiation,” said Rubén Fedriani, a co-investigator of the project at the Instituto Astrofísica de Andalucía in Spain. “Webb has provided us with a ton of data on this extreme environment, and we are just starting to dig into it.”
Image: Sagitarius C Features
Approximate outlines help to define the features in the Sagittarius C (Sgr C) region. Astronomers are studying data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to understand the relationship between these features, as well as other influences in the chaotic galaxy center.NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Samuel Crowe (UVA) Around 25,000 light-years from Earth, the galactic center is close enough to study individual stars with the Webb telescope, allowing astronomers to gather unprecedented information on how stars form, and how this process may depend on the cosmic environment, especially compared to other regions of the galaxy. For example, are more massive stars formed in the center of the Milky Way, as opposed to the edges of its spiral arms?
“The image from Webb is stunning, and the science we will get from it is even better,” Crowe said. “Massive stars are factories that produce heavy elements in their nuclear cores, so understanding them better is like learning the origin story of much of the universe.”
The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
Laura Betz – email@example.com, Rob Gutro– firstname.lastname@example.org
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, , Greenbelt, Md.
Leah Ramsay email@example.com , Christine Pulliam firstname.lastname@example.org
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
Download full resolution images for this article from the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Piercing the Dark Birthplaces of Massive Stars with Webb
Our Milky Way
Webb Mission – https://science.nasa.gov/mission/webb/
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Last Updated Nov 20, 2023 Editor Steve Sabia Contact Related Terms
Galaxies Galaxies, Stars, & Black Holes Goddard Space Flight Center James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Protostars Stars The Milky Way The Universe View the full article
By European Space Agency
The latest image from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope shows a portion of the dense centre of our galaxy in unprecedented detail, including never-before-seen features astronomers have yet to explain. The star-forming region, named Sagittarius C (Sgr C), is about 300 light-years from the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*.
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Backyard Worlds Volunteers Complete Ten Million Classifications in an Epic Search for New Objects Among the Nearest StarsBy NASA
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Backyard Worlds Volunteers Complete Ten Million Classifications in an Epic Search for New Objects Among the Nearest Stars
A few Backyard Worlds volunteers. Credit: Backyard Worlds
Top (l-r): Arttu Sainio, Frank Kiwy, Jean Marc Gantier, Marianne Michaels, Les Hamlet, Melina Thévenot,
2nd row (l-r): Kevin Apps, Nikolaj Stevnbak Andersen, Rebekah Russwurm, Jörg Schümann, Guoyou Sun, Tom Bickle
3rd row (l-r): Michiharu Hyogo, Katharina Doll, Hugo Durantini-Luca, Yadukrishna Raghu, Hiro Higashimura,
4th row (l-r): Ben Pumphrey, Zbigniew Wedracki, Guillaume Colin, Anya Frazer, Dan Caselden
4th row (l-r): Kristin Grant, Maurizio Ventura, Harshdeep Singh, Celso Pessanha Machado, Austin Rothermich
6th row (l-r): Edoardo Antonini, Peter Jalowiczor, Leopold Gramaize, Hunter Brooks, William Pendrill The Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 and Backyard Worlds: Cool Neighbors projects invite members of the public to search images from NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission to find new objects among the nearest stars. These projects share a science team and many volunteers–a total of more than 175,000 participants from more than 167 countries. Last week, the combined efforts of this giant Backyard Worlds team reached an incredible milestone: a total of 10,000,000 classifications of WISE mission image sets.
Since 2017, when the first Backyard Worlds project (Planet 9) launched, these projects have discovered more than 3800 nearby objects, including 12% of all the known stellar and substellar objects out to a distance of 60 light years. Those objects include many rare brown dwarfs, balls of gas that are not massive enough to become stars. Among them are roughly 15 Y dwarfs–the rarest kind of brown dwarf (only about 50 are known). The discoveries also include an entirely new kind of object, the “extreme T subdwarfs,” relics from our Galaxy’s earliest days.
This work has resulted in 20 refereed publications, with more than 40 volunteers named as co-authors on those refereed publications. It has also led to 11 research notes and 25 presentations at meetings of the American Astronomical Society. Several project volunteers have participated in observing runs at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility and even won time on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
Best of all, there’s much more data to explore, and the WISE mission continues to scan the skies! So come join the fun and make your own discoveries at backyardworlds.org and coolneighbors.org!
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Last Updated Nov 16, 2023 Related Terms
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