- Press Release
- Dec 2, 2022
Webb And Chandra View Stephan’s Quintet
In the summer of 2022, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope released images from some of its earliest observations with the newly commissioned telescope.
Almost instantaneously, these stunning images landed everywhere from the front pages of news outlets to larger-than-life displays in Times Square.
Webb, however, will not pursue its exploration of the universe on its own. It is designed to work in concert with NASA’s many other telescopes as well as facilities both in space and on the ground. These new versions of Webb’s first images combine its infrared data with X-rays collected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, underscoring how the power of any of these telescopes is only enhanced when joined with others.
The four galaxies within Stephan’s Quintet are undergoing an intricate dance choreographed by gravity. (The fifth galaxy, on the left, is an interloping galaxy at a different distance.) The Webb image (red, orange, yellow, green, blue) of this object features never-seen-before details of the results of these interactions, including sweeping tails of gas and bursts of star formation. The Chandra data (light blue) of this system has uncovered a shock wave that heats gas to tens of millions of degrees, as one of the galaxies passes through the others at speeds of around 2 million miles per hour. This new composite also includes infrared data from NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope (red, green, blue).
Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; IR (Spitzer): NASA/JPL-Caltech; IR (Webb): NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI Larger image