New image from the James Webb Space Telescope shows thousands upon thousands of stars in a galaxy 17 million light-years away

Image of a galaxy showing thousands of stars as tiny white dots against a background of green and yellow ethereal gas.
Every single dot you see is a star. There are thousands upon thousands of stars in this image from the James Webb Space Telescope.ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team
  • The James Webb Space Telescope snapped a new image of a galaxy 17 million light-years away.

  • Thousands upon thousands of stars are visible, many of which are concentrated in the galaxy's heart.

  • JWST is peering at the hearts of many galaxies to help scientists better understand star formation.

With the power of the James Webb Space Telescope, we can peer into the mysterious hearts of galaxies. And that's exactly what you're seeing here, in this new image from Webb of the galaxy NGC 5068.

NGC 5068 is located about 17 million light-years from Earth. For perspective, the Milky Way's neighborhood of galaxies, known as the Local Group, is around 5 million light-years away. So, this galaxy is beyond what we might consider close.

Each dot of white light is a star, per Mashable. NASA said there were thousands upon thousands of stars in this image. Many of them were hanging out at the galaxy's center, which you can see in the upper left as a bright bar of white light.

Skitched photo showing a red circle pointing to the center of galaxy NGC 5068.
The bright bar in the upper left of the image is where the most stars are concentrated.ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team

This region appears so bright because that's where most of the stars are concentrated. That's also where all the action is.

James Webb peers into the hearts of many galaxies to uncover their secrets

Most galaxies have an ultra-bright center because of warm dust that's heated by massive bursts of star formation, according to the Center of Astrophysics. And it's this star formation that astronomers are interested in studying more with the help of JWST.

In fact, NGC 5068 is just one in a series of other galaxies that Webb is observing for a project to help us better understand star formation. Webb has also taken images of the spiral galaxy IC 5332:

Picture of a spiral galaxy taken from James Webb Space Telescope. The spirals look like spider webs dotted by pink gaseous regions throughout the image.
The James Webb Telescope is peering into the hearts of many galaxies to help astronomers gain a better understanding of star formation, especially in the turbulent environments of galactic cores.ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST and PHANGS-HST Teams

And the heart of galaxy M74, known as the "Phantom Galaxy":

Blue heart of the Phantom Galaxy seen from the Webb Telescope.
The James Webb Space Telescope sees objects in infrared wavelengths, which allows it to peer past obstructive light that would otherwise block our ability to see into the hearts of galaxies.ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team./J. Schmidt

The James Webb Space Telescope has the advantage of seeing in the infrared.

Infrared wavelengths are too long for the human eye to detect. But they're especially important for studying in space because they allow JWST to peer past obstructive visual light that would otherwise block our ability to see into the hearts of galaxies and their bustling environments of star formation.

"By observing the formation of stars in nearby galaxies, astronomers hope to kick-start major scientific advances with some of the first available data from Webb," NASA said.

Watch a video of NGC 5068 below:

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