"James Webb" took the most detailed picture of the Cartwheel Galaxy

NASA has published a photo of the lenticular and ring-shaped Cartwheel Galaxy (ESO 350-40). The frame was taken using the powerful infrared vision of “James Webb”. The telescope also made it possible to capture two smaller companion galaxies.


The Cartwheel Galaxy, located about 500 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor, looks like a wagon wheel. This view is the result of a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy not visible in this image.

Image in the mid-IR range using the MIRI spectrograph “James Webb” / NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

Scientists note that the Cartwheel has two rings – a bright inner ring and a colorful ring surrounding it. Both expand outward from the center of impact, like ripples in water after a stone is thrown. Because of these distinctive features, astronomers call it a ring galaxy, a structure less common than spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way.

Other telescopes have previously explored the Cartwheel, but the galaxy has been shrouded in mystery—perhaps literally, given the amount of dust that obscures the view. Webb, with its ability to detect infrared light, opens up new insights into the nature of this object.

Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA

For comparison, above is a picture of this galaxy using Hubble.

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