The Orion Nebula, a star-forming region 1,350 light-years from Earth, can be seen in stunning clarity in recently released photos from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
According to Agence France-Presse, more than 100 scientists from 18 different nations worked together to create the photos, which were shown by a group of international experts on Monday.
Located in the constellation of Orion, the Orion Nebula resembles the environment in which our solar system evolved about 4.5 billion years ago.
The JWST collects infrared light that allows researchers to see through the dust clouds, but the hearts of stellar nurseries like the Orion Nebula cannot be studied because they are shrouded in stardust.
The photos are sufficiently detailed to show the nebula’s architecture on a scale comparable to that of our solar system.
Edwin Bergin, the college’s astronomy chair, and other researchers said in a University of Michigan press release that they wanted to use the photos “to gain an understanding of the full cycle of star birth.”
“In this image, we’re looking at this cycle where the first generation of stars is essentially irradiating matter for the next generation. The incredible structures we are observing will detail how the star birth feedback cycle works in our galaxy and beyond,” Bergin said.
Launched in December, JWST became operational in July and has already provided stunning images of Jupiter’s auroras and the Tarantula Nebula.
The JWST also detected water vapor earlier this year on a Jupiter-sized planet 1,150 light-years away.
In August, spectacular new photos of the phantom galaxy, a member of the Grand Design class of spiral galaxies, were created by combining data from the JWST and its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.