NASA on Tuesday released four images that combine data from the space agency’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the James Webb Space Telescope. Each image combines the infrared data from previously released Webb images with X-ray data from Chandra.
Both the high energy X-ray light and low-energy infrared light are invisible to the naked eye but when they are translated into visible light, it results in some stunning images. The space agency says it also used optical light data from the Hubble telescope, infrared light from the Spitzer Space Telescope, optical data from the European Southern Observator’s New Technology Telescope and X-ray data from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton telescope.
Check out the stunning results from this combination of data below.
Eagle Nebula or Messier 16 (M16)
Messier 16, or the Eagle Nebula, is the famous region of the sky that is also referred to as the Pillars of Creation in NASA’s first images from the Webb telescope. In the new image, the dark columns of gas shrouding the young stars are displayed from Webb data. The light detected by Chandra, which looks like dots, are those young stars giving off X-ray light.
M74, the Phantom Galaxy
Messier 74 or M74 is a spiral galaxy just like our Milky Way. It is nicknamed the Phantom Galaxy because it is quite dim, making it more difficult to observe compared to other galaxies in Charles Messier’s famous catalogue.
The Webb data outlines gas and dust in infrared while Chandra’s X-ray data shows high-energy activity from stars. Along with this, Hubble optical data displays additional stars and dust along dust lanes.
NGC 346 is a star cluster in the Small Magellanic Cloud, which is a galaxy about 200,000 light-years away from our planet. The plumes and arcs of gas and dust that form stars and planets are seen in the Webb data. The young, hot and massive stars that send out powerful stellar winds shaping the gas and dust are visible from the Chandra data. This image also includes additional data from the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes, along with supporting data from XMM-Newton and the New Technology Telescope.
NGC 1672 is another spiral galaxy but astronomers categorise it as a barred spiral. In the regions close to their centres, the arms of barred spiral galaxies are visible as straight bars of stars that enclose the cores. Run-of-the-mill spiral galaxies have arms that twist all the way to the core.
Data from Chandra reveals compact objects like neutron stars or black holes pulling in material from companion stars and also, the remnants of exploded stars. Researchers used optical data from Hubble to fill out the spiral arms with gas and dust while Webb data was used to show gas and dust in NGC 1672’s spiral arms.