Webb Telescope released stunning image of an explicit spiral galaxy 

JWST exhibits another exemplary image proving its efficiency in capturing astounding details of distant objects.
Kavita Verma
A spiral amongst thousands
A spiral amongst thousands


A recent image released by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) shows a spiral galaxy in astonishing detail amidst a legion of other galaxies and stars. The telescope beautifully captured intricate details of the spiral galaxy encompassed by a multitude of other dazzling kaleidoscopic stars and galaxies.

The splendid spiral galaxy, LEDA 2046648, sits in the image's foreground with discernible individual spiral arms. It is a part of the Hercules constellation and is considered to be more than a billion light years away from the planet, proving the quality and detailing of JWST’s image to be even more majestic. In addition, the other galaxies and stars, ranging from tiny ovals and spirals to odd-ly shaped smudges of light, are even further than LEDA 2046648.

Formation of ‘the image’

The Webb Telescope contains a main mirror, multiple intricate mirrors, and other optical elements. These divert and focus the starlight collected by the main mirror to create a clear image of any distant object. 

This particular image captured recently was a part of the commissioning process of the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph or NIRISS. Engineers and Astronomers were setting up the Webb instruments for some science observation when the NIRISS faced a glitch. The instrument experienced delayed communication on January 15 because of a run-in with a cosmic ray, leading to a time-out. Later, the team confirmed that NIRISS was back to full operations on January 30 after successfully completing test observations.

In this commissioning process, JWST was experimenting with a ‘parallel observation’ strategy test which would allow NIRISS and the NIRCam (Near Infrared Camera) to examine two different targets simultaneously. While the NIRISS was observing a white dwarf called WD 1657+343, the NIRCam captured the stunning image of LEDA 2046648, which was released on January 31.

According to a statement by ESA, “Calibration images such as this one were critical to verify the telescope’s capabilities as it was prepared for science operations, and this one doesn’t disappoint.” 

James Webb Space Telescope

JWST specializes in gathering information about the oldest galaxies in the universe. It helps astronomers gain insight into the evolution of different galaxies, their ages, and how they grew to become what we see today. It also probes their chemical composition to understand how heavy and complex elements formed while the galaxies evolved.

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Additionally, the telescope is also competent in spotting distant objects like ancient galaxies. In November 2022, a team of highly proficient astronomers highlighted JWSTs first image ever, consisting of two breathtakingly ancient galaxies studded in the thick of multiple other galaxies. These were the oldest galaxies in the universe, approximately 13.5 billion years old.

The Webb telescope views the universe in infrared light with longer wavelengths which stretches the light from distant objects that are moving ever farther away. This is why JWST observations show ‘six-pointed’ diffraction spikes (their signature), as in this particular image.

NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope marked this stunning image as the “Picture of the Month” for January 2023.

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