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See Webb Telescope’s ‘Mind-Blowing’ Collection of Spiral Galaxy Images

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Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, J. Lee (STScI), T. Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team

Shall I compare thee to the Webb Space Telescope’s latest image drop? Well, for starters, thou art less ancient and far less spectacular. The new collection of 19 images reveal face-on spiral galaxies, meaning they are oriented toward Webb’s perceptive gaze. The shots were taken as part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) project, which is collecting data on 74 spiral galaxies.

To us, the galaxies may simply appear to be stupendous feats of nature: luminous kaleidoscopes of gas and dust, with cores so bright we cannot make out the secrets that lie in their centers. For astronomers, Webb images—taken by its Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI)—help provide answers as to how galaxies take shape.

“They’re mind-blowing even for researchers who have studied these same galaxies for decades,” said Janice Lee, a project scientist for strategic initiatives at the Space Telescope Science Institute, in a release. “Bubbles and filaments are resolved down to the smallest scales ever observed, and tell a story about the star formation cycle.”

Proceed and behold some of the most dazzling galactic imagery ever.

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