This photo, taken with the James Webb Space Telescope, shows a H II region in the Milky Way’s satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). This nebula, designated N79, was observed by Webb’s Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) to be an ionized area of interstellar atomic hydrogen.
Massive N79 is a star-forming complex located in the mostly unexplored southwest portion of the Lyman-Markov chain, spanning around 1630 light-years. N79 is commonly seen of as a younger counterpart of another of Webb’s recent targets, 30 Doradus, or the Tarantula Nebula. Studies indicate that over the last 500,000 years, N79’s star generation efficiency has been two times greater than that of 30 Doradus.
One of the three enormous molecular cloud complexes, known as N79 South (S1 for short), is the focus of this particular photograph. A sequence of diffraction spikes surrounds this bright object in a characteristic “starburst” pattern. Similar to Webb, all telescopes that use mirrors to gather light have some sort of optical imperfection resulting from the telescope’s construction.
In Webb’s scenario, the hexagonal symmetry of his eighteen principal mirror segments accounts for the appearance of the six greatest starburst spikes. These kinds of patterns are only apparent in the vicinity of extremely brilliant, compact objects when all of the light originates from one location. Despite seeming small to our eyes, most galaxies lack this pattern because they are darker and more dispersed than a single star.
Webb’s Mid-Infrared Discoveries Regarding Star Formation
Webb’s picture of N79 highlights the region’s blazing gas and dust at the longer wavelengths of light acquired by MIRI. This is due to the fact that mid-infrared light can see into the clouds’ interiors, but shorter wavelengths would be absorbed or dispersed by the nebula’s dust grains. In this field, there are also several protostars that are still imbedded.
Astronomers are interested in star-forming areas like this one because they have a chemical makeup that is comparable to the massive star-forming regions seen when the Universe was only a few billion years old and star formation was at its height. Our Milky Way galaxy’s star-forming regions have a different chemical makeup than N79’s and do not produce stars as quickly. Astronomers now have the chance to analyze and contrast Webb’s deep studies of distant galaxies in the early Universe with observations of star formation in N79.
The Webb program, which includes these studies of N79, is examining the evolution of developing stars’ envelopes and circumstellar disks over a broad mass range and at various evolutionary phases. Because of Webb’s sensitivity, scientists will be able to identify planet-forming dust disks surrounding stars at the distance of the LMC that are comparable in mass to our Sun for the first time.
7.7 microns of blue light, 10 microns of cyan, 15 microns of yellow light, and 21 microns of red light (770W, 1000W, 1500W, and 2100W filters, respectively) are displayed in this image.