Breathtaking new images from the 122-megapixel Webb Telescope reveal the hottest, most massive stars known


Thousands of young stars have been revealed for the first time by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and in ultra high resolution.

30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, is one of the most studied regions of the night sky. It lies about 161,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way.

The fame of the Tarantula Nebula comes from its status as the largest and brightest star-forming region known to astronomers in one of the galaxies in our cosmic neighborhood. More than 800,000 stars and protostars lie inside the nebula.

It gets its name from filaments that look like a spider’s web. New images of Webb reveal the detailed structure and composition of its gas and dust. They also show distant background galaxies, as well as the hottest and most massive stars known.

Three images were created. The most detailed image (above) is from JWST’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam). This 14557 x 8418 pixel, 122 megapixel image is free to download in full resolution. It reveals stars previously shrouded in cosmic dust that JWST can now look directly at thanks to NIRCam’s high resolution at near-infrared wavelengths. You can see an active region of young massive blue stars.

This image, above, is from Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), which captures in longer infrared wavelengths. Inside glow cooler gas and dust and embedded protostars.

The Tarantula Nebula has a similar type of chemical composition to the huge star-forming regions seen in the “cosmic noon” of the universe, when the cosmos was only a few billion years old and star formation star was reaching its peak.

Finally come images from JWST’s near-infrared spectrograph (NIRSpec), which took spectra – fingerprints of light – from a small bubble in the Tarantula Nebula. Atomic hydrogen is blue, green represents molecular hydrogen, and red represents complex hydrocarbons (red). This indicates that the bubble sits atop a dense pillar of dust and gas blown around by radiation from the star cluster seen in the main image of this article.

I wish you clear skies and big eyes.

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