All eyes are on the moon these days due to the Luna-25 and Chandrayaan-3 missions. However, this must not make us forget that the cosmos is great. In the first week of August we wrote about the release of aImage of the Ring Nebula (also known as Messier 57, M57 or NGC 6720), taken by James Webb Space Telescope. Unlike other occasions, this image was not made available through the “usual” NASA/ESA archives but with a joint publication by Western University, University of Manchester, University College London and other institutions.
NIRCam image, click to enlarge
Now we finally have a new picture (actually two) taken again from the JWST extension with the data from NIR camera for the near infrared e MIRI for the mid-infrared. This celestial object is extremely spectacular, even for amateur astronomers, because it looks very impressive and thanks to the colors applied in post-processing, its shapes can be emphasized. The Ring Nebula had already been imaged in the past by the Hubble Space Telescope, among others. Now Webb adds more details. We know this.
Image of the Ring Nebula and the James Webb Space Telescope
As reported from the press releases joint of ESA And NASAThanks to James Webb Space Telescope It was possible to capture incredible detail from it Ring Nebula (about 2300-2500 light years from Earth, in the Lyra constellation). At the center is a star that has shed its outer layers due to the final stages of its life. With the observation through NIR camera And MIRI For example, it was possible to highlight the structure of the inner ring and outermost regions to better understand their dynamics.
Image of MIRI, click to enlarge
The nebula contains areas rich in molecular hydrogen with the innermost region where the gas is particularly hot instead. Also in this area there is a (thin) ring in which there are carbon-rich molecules Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Even more interesting is that the particular structure of the Ring Nebula It would have been formed by a lower mass star orbiting the main star at a distance equal to that between Earth and Pluto. This less dense star of the binary system has not yet been discovered and is therefore currently a hypothesis, despite its potential James Webb Space Telescope. Concentric arches can be seen from the inner to the outermost area. Scientists assume that their formation rate is once every 280 years.
On the left the image of HST, on the right that of JWST
The structure of this celestial object features low-density matter at its center, which extends both toward Earth and in the opposite direction. The main star will be one in the future white dwarf (small but very dense and hot) while already past the red giant stage. A similar end to what the sun could reach in a few billion years.
The James Webb Space Telescope was used for these observations on August 4, 2022 NIR camera and the filters F162M, F212N, F300M and F335M were used. For MIRI instead, the observations are from July 14, 2022 and August 21, 2022 using filters F560W, F770W, F1000W, F1130W, F1280W, F1500W, F1800W, F2100W, F2550W. The area covered in the image is 2.14 x 2.17 arc minutes. ESA provided the high-resolution images from approx. 90 MB NIRCam And from 7.3 MB MIRI.