May 21, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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MYSTERIES OF THE CIGAR GALAXY: INSIGHTS FROM HUBBLE AND WEBB TELESCOPES

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TAG: GS 3: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

THE CONTEXT: The Cigar Galaxy, also known as Messier 82 (M82), has long captivated astronomers with its turbulent core and prolific star-forming activity. Recent observations from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have provided unprecedented insights into the dynamics of this starburst galaxy, revealing intricate details of its central region.

EXPLANATION:

  • The research is led by a team of scientists utilized the JWST’s near-infrared camera (NIRCam) to investigate the conditions driving the formation of infant stars within M82, shedding new light on the galactic phenomena at play.

Characteristics of the Cigar Galaxy:

  • M82 stands out for its compact yet turbulent environment, making it an ideal laboratory for studying the process of mass star formation.
  • Its proximity to Earth and distinctive features, including red glowing gas and dust emanating from its core, have made it a focal point for astronomical research.
  • With its high resolution and sensitivity, the JWST offers a unique opportunity to unravel the mysteries of this enigmatic galaxy and unveil previously unseen details.

Insights from JWST Observations:

  • The JWST’s image of the Cigar Galaxy’s core has revealed intriguing findings, particularly regarding the nature of the red glowing dust observed within the galaxy.
  • While previous observations from telescopes like Spitzer and Hubble have provided valuable data, the JWST’s superior capabilities have allowed for a more comprehensive examination of M82’s star-forming regions.
  • The red glowing dust, previously thought to be associated solely with hot plasma, is now believed to be driven out by the combined particle winds of numerous stars, creating a galactic superwind.

Implications for Galactic Evolution:

  • The newfound understanding of the Cigar Galaxy’s dynamics has significant implications for our understanding of galactic evolution and star formation processes.
  • The superwind phenomenon observed in M82 suggests a complex interplay of stellar activity and environmental factors, highlighting the dynamic nature of galaxies.
  • By studying starburst galaxies like M82, astronomers can gain valuable insights into the mechanisms driving the formation and evolution of stars on a cosmic scale.

Advancements in Astronomical Imaging:

  • The JWST’s groundbreaking image of the Cigar Galaxy showcases the power and potential of next-generation telescopes in advancing our understanding of the universe.
  • By resolving individual stars and star clusters within M82’s core, the JWST enables scientists to conduct detailed analyses of stellar populations and star formation rates.
  • This capability opens new avenues for studying galactic structures and processes with unprecedented clarity and precision.

Galaxy:

  • Galaxies consist of stars, planets, and vast clouds of gas and dust, all bound together by gravity. The largest contain trillions of stars and can be more than a million light-years across.
  • The smallest can contain a few thousand stars and span just a few hundred light-years. Most large galaxies have supermassive black holes at their centers, some with billions of times the Sun’s mass.
  • Galaxies come in a variety of shapes, mostly spirals and ellipticals, as well as those with less orderly appearances, usually dubbed irregular.
  • Most galaxies are between 10 billion and 13.6 billion years old. Some are almost as old as the universe itself, which formed around 13.8 billion years ago. Astronomers think the youngest known galaxy formed approximately 500 million years ago.

JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE:

  • The James Webb Space Telescopeis the largest, most powerful space telescope ever built.
  • Thetelescope will be able to capture images of some of the first galaxies ever formed.
  • It will also be able to observe objects in our solar system from Mars outward, look inside dust clouds to see where new stars and planets are forming and examine the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars.
  • The Webb telescope’scameras are sensitive to heat from the Sun. Webb has a sunshield to protect its instruments and mirrors.
  • The James Webb Space Telescopesees the universe in light that is invisible to human eyes. This light is called infrared radiation. The James Webb Space Telescope will use its infrared cameras to see through dust in the universe.
  • It took deep field images of Pandora’s cluster in 2022.

SOURCE: https://www.livemint.com/science/news/nasa-shares-image-of-cigar-galaxy-taken-by-hubble-and-webb-telescope-something-strange-happened/amp-11713174514359.html

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