If you have a dislike or phobia of spiders then you can rest easy and read on, as the image below only shows stars in the formation of the beautiful Tarantula Nebula – not an actual space spider . Do space bugs exist?
The James Webb Space Telescope captured another stunning image, this time of a star-forming region known as the Tarantula Nebula, with tens of thousands of never-before-seen young stars shrouded in cosmic dust.
• Discover the phenomenal: Image of the Pillars of Creation (opens in a new tab) captured by the James Webb Space Telescope
Released by NASA in September, we’re not sure how we didn’t stumble across this gorgeous image before, but we’re excited to share it with you now. Captured by the James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), this image shows a stellar nursery called 30 Doradus, nicknamed the Tarantula Nebula for the arachnid-like appearance of its dusty filaments.
The Tarantula Nebula is a region of star formation, shown in this latest image in a whole new light with young stars appearing to twinkle in a pretty pale blue color. Located 161,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, the Tarantula Nebula as reported by NASA (opens in a new tab) is the largest and brightest star-forming region in the Local Group, formed from the galaxies closest to our Milky Way.
The mosaic image below spans 340 light-years and depicts scattered, still-encrusted stars that appear red and have yet to emerge from the nebula’s cocoon. Dust-covered stars can be detected using Webb’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) (opens in a new tab)high resolution at near infrared wavelengths.
(opens in a new tab)
Astronomers focused three of Webb’s high-resolution infrared instruments on the Tarantula Nebula for observation, including Webb’s NIRCam, as well as the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) (opens in a new tab)and the JWST near infrared spectrograph (NIRSpec) (opens in a new tab) which caught a very young star beginning to emerge from its pillar cocoon, then now an isolating cloud of dust around it, eventually reshaping the foundations of the nebula.
The Tarantula Nebula star region looks a bit different when viewed in longer infrared wavelengths through Webb’s MIRI instrument, with hot faded stars, cooler gas, and what NASA calls it a “dust glow”. The nebula cavity that is centered in the NIRCam image (above) has been carved out by radiation blistering from a cluster of massive young stars, the faint blue formation that can be seen.
Astronomers are said to have taken a closer look at this stellar region using two of JWST’s spectrographs, to also determine the chemical makeup of the star and its surrounding gas. NASA says this spectral information can be used to help astronomers establish the age of the nebula and the number of star births it has seen to the nearest generation.
(opens in a new tab)
If you want to keep up with the latest images released, head over to the James Webb Space Telescope Gallery (opens in a new tab), where you can see all of Webb’s early images and learn more about what they represent. NASA will launch new images at least every two weeks (opens in a new tab).
You may also be interested in NASA’s asteroid destruction mission (opens in a new tab)as good as first image EVER of a planet outside the solar system (opens in a new tab).
Check out our guides for best telescopes for astrophotography (opens in a new tab)and the best deep space telescopes (opens in a new tab)and don’t forget the best lenses for astrophotography (opens in a new tab).