The Tarantula captured by Webb

With unrivaled precision to date, this photo is in fact a mosaic that spans 340 light-years. It was captured with the NIRCam instrument, one of Webb’s four scientific tools.

The Tarantula is the largest known nebula. It is a stellar nursery some 161,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of the neighboring galaxies of the Milky Way.

In the center of the image, it is possible to see thousands of twinkling young stars (in pale blue) that did not appear on observations from previous telescopes. Webb also reveals distant galaxies in the background as well as the gas and dust structure of the nebula with great precision.

Image of the Tarantula taken by the Spitzer Telescope in 2019.

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In addition, it is also possible to see pillars containing stars in formation, which will eventually come out of their dusty cocoons and will in turn shape the nebula.

Astrophysicists say the rate of star births in the Tarantula is higher there than in any region of our galaxy

The very first images and data captured by the James Webb Space Telescope were unveiled last July.

James Webb observes the Universe 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. The telescope was designed to observe the outer reaches of the cosmos even further than ever before. One of its main objectives will be to detect the light of the very first stars and galaxies, which appeared more than 13.5 billion years ago.

Canada provides two instruments for the telescope. The first is the Precision Guidance Sensor (FGS), intended to keep the telescope on target, and the second is the Near Infrared Slitless Imager and Spectrograph (NIRISS).

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