Today’s Image of the Day from the European Space Agency features Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies in the constellation Pegasus. According to ESA, this photo of Stephan’s Quintet is the largest image to date from the James Webb Space Telescope, covering about one-fifth of the Moon’s diameter.
“It contains over 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files. The visual grouping of five galaxies was captured by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI),” says ESA.
“With its powerful, infrared vision and extremely high spatial resolution, Webb shows never-before-seen details in this galaxy group. Sparkling clusters of millions of young stars and starburst regions of fresh star birth grace the image. Sweeping tails of gas, dust and stars are being pulled from several of the galaxies due to gravitational interactions.”
“Most dramatically, Webb’s MIRI instrument captures huge shock waves as one of the galaxies, NGC 7318B, smashes through the cluster. These regions surrounding the central pair of galaxies are shown in the colors red and gold.”
Only four of the five galaxies of Stephan’s Quintet appear close together. The fifth galaxy, NGC 7320, is in the foreground and to the left of the other galaxies.
While NGC 7320 is approximately 40 million light-years from Earth, the other four galaxies – NGC 7317, NGC 7318A, NGC 7318B, and NGC 7319 – are about 290 million light-years away. The quintet was first discovered in 1877 by Édouard Stephan, a French astronomer.
Image Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope