This Webb image shows Messier 51, a grand design spiral galaxy some 27 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici. Image credit: NASA / ESA / CSA / Webb / A. Adamo, Stockholm University / FEAST JWST Team.
Messier 51 was discovered on October 13, 1773 by the French astronomer Charles Messier while hunting for objects that could confuse comet hunters.
It has an apparent magnitude of 8.4 and can be spotted with a small telescope most easily during May.
The compact galaxy appears to be tugging on the arm, the tidal forces from which trigger new star formation.
“The interaction between these two galaxies has made these galactic neighbors one of the better-studied galaxy pairs in the night sky,” Webb astronomers said.
“The gravitational influence of Messier 51’s smaller companion is thought to be partially responsible for the stately nature of the galaxy’s prominent and distinct spiral arms.”
In the new Webb image, the dark red regions trace the filamentary warm dust permeating the medium of Messier 51.
“The red regions show the reprocessed light from complex molecules forming on dust grains, while colors of orange and yellow reveal the regions of ionized gas by the recently formed star clusters,” the astronomers said.
“Stellar feedback has a dramatic effect on the medium of the galaxy and create complex network of bright knots as well as cavernous black bubbles.”
“The FEAST observations were designed to shed light on the interplay between stellar feedback and star formation in environments outside of our own Galaxy, the Milky Way,” the researchers said.
“Stellar feedback is the term used to describe the outpouring of energy from stars into the environments which form them, and is a crucial process in determining the rates at which stars form.”
“Understanding stellar feedback is vital to building accurate universal models of star formation.”
“The aim of the FEAST observations is to discover and study stellar nurseries in galaxies beyond the Milky Way.”
Source: Sci News