James Webb Space Telescope's stunning 'Phantom Galaxy' picture looks like a wormhole

By Elizabeth Howell published about 15 hours ago

The telescope is 'new, different, and exciting' for Judy Schmidt, who has been working with space images for a decade.

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The James Webb Space Telescope's imagery of NGC 628 (the "Phantom Galaxy") shows glowing dust in this citizen science image. (Image credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/Judy Schmidt)

A fresh image based on brand-new deep-space data appears to show a wormhole spinning before our very eyes.

The appropriately named "Phantom Galaxy" glows eerily in a new image by Judy Schmidt based on James Webb Space Telescope data collected nearly a million miles away from our planet using the observatory's mid-infrared instrument (MIRI).

"I've been doing this for 10 years now, and [Webb] data is new, different, and exciting," Schmidt told Space.com. "Of course I'm going to make something with it."

The image highlights the dust lanes in the galaxy, which is more properly known as NGC 628 or Messier 74. Dubbed the "perfect spiral" by some astronomers because the galaxy is so symmetrical, the Phantom Galaxy is scientifically interesting because of the intermediate-mass black hole scientists believe is embedded at its heart.

The galaxy has been imaged professionally many times before, including by space observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). What makes Webb imagery stand apart from these past efforts is the mid-infrared range that highlights cosmic dust, along with the power of its unique 18-segment hexagonal mirror and deep-space location.

Webb observed M74 earlier this week. The data was also shared on Twitter (opens in new tab) (with different filtration) by Gabriel Brammer, an astronomer at the Cosmic Dawn Center in the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Denmark.

A selected of raw Webb imagery is made publicly available at this portal(opens in new tab) a few hours or days after observations, and amateur imagers and scientists are free to use the data as long as they credit the source when publishing.

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The Phantom Galaxy, also known as Messier 74 or NGC 628, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration)

The busy deep-space telescope released its first operational images on July 12 of deep-space objects, including a nebula and a view of very young galaxies. An infrared view of Jupiter, along with the gas giant's moons and rings, joined the iconic new images on July 14.

That week's work alone showcases Webb's flexibility in switching between faraway objects near the cosmic dawn — when stars began shining — and solar system objects much closer to its viewfinder.

As for the Phantom Galaxy, Schmidt used Photoshop and FITS Liberator for most of the work and said many of the concepts in her 2017 YouTube imaging tutorial (opens in new tab) will help with the more advanced software of today.

You can check out more spectacular imagery of Webb photos and other cosmic objects at Schmidt's Flickr page (opens in new tab).

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace(opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom(opens in new tab) and on Facebook(opens in new tab).

See: https://www.space.com/james-webb-sp...campaign=58E4DE65-C57F-4CD3-9A5A-609994E2C5A9

The differences in detail between the Hubble image and the JWST images are striking. Just a few years ago we thought that Hubble images were nonpareil. Today, viewing the images in the varying infrared frequencies, which are invisible to the human eye, are more amazing with every JWST captured image. Everyday seems to bring us a new and more amazing view of our cosmos. The JWST image of NGC 628 seems to show circular or spherical voids where radiation pressure has blasted the gas and dust into the interstellar medium.
‘These (micrometeorite strikes) occurred at a rate (roughly one per month) consistent with pre-launch expectations. Each micrometeoroid caused degradation in the wavefront of the impacted mirror segment,’

The report covered the James Webb’s overall performance since it reached its final destination in space.

The researchers expect the damages to cause a small effect on the telescope throughput, which is not yet measurable.

The biggest concern seems to be the micrometeoroid which struck the telescope in May, causing ‘significant uncorrectable change’ in the overall figure of a particular segment of the telescope.

‘However, the effect was small at the full telescope level because only a small portion of the telescope area was affected,’ said NASA.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Releases First Images

Between May 23 and 25, the £8.3 billion space telescope sustained an impact to one of its 18 primary mirror segments, said Nasa in a statement (Picture: Getty Images)

After initial assessments, the team found the telescope was still performing well with only a ‘marginally detectable effect in the data’.

The damage only affects one of the telescope’s 18 gold-coated hexagonal mirrors. Nasa has assured us that the telescope is still fully capable of achieving its goals.

‘Inevitably, any spacecraft will encounter micrometeoroids,’ said NASA.

‘Micrometeoroid strikes are an unavoidable aspect of operating any spacecraft, which routinely sustain many impacts over the course of long and productive science missions in space,’

Similar impacts are expected to occur throughout the entirety of Webb’s lifetime in space and engineers have overbuilt the telescope's instrument housing with these factors in mind.

See: https://metro.co.uk/2022/07/22/jame...correctable-damage-from-micrometeor-17049469/

The James Webb Space Telescope was designed and built with similar once a month micrometeorite strikes in mind. Greater numbers of them may result in higher levels of damage to the mirror segments. However, the telescopes and their housings are minimally armored.


This figure shows how the light gathered is reflected from the primary mirror segments onto the secondary mirror then into the instrument housing.

The reflective mirror segment has sustained the damage by nothing larger than this period., or smaller.

However, F=m times v means that this dot travels at a velocity of ca. 8,000 meters per second and will cause damage due to its high speed.

A comparison of the flux of micrometeorites with theoretical predictions confirms that most micrometeorites probably come from comets (80%) and the rest from asteroids.

The probability of being struck can be estimated by the following equation:


This is valuable information to better understand the role played by these interplanetary dust particles in supplying water and carbonaceous molecules on the young Earth.

See: https://propagation.ece.gatech.edu/...011/group5/website/ssp/sat/env/meteorite.html

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