NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, J. Lee (STScI), T. Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team
This Webb image shows a densely populated spiral galaxy anchored by a central region that has a light blue haze, known NGC 628. It's 32 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces.
In this new image of Uranus, the planet shines shine brightly, along with its many rings and moons.
The James Webb Space Telescope's shot of supernova remnant Cassiopeia A shows elaborate details visible for the first time.
There are approximately 500,000 stars in this image of the Sagittarius C region of the Milky Way. The bright cyan area contains emissions from ionized hydrogen.
Galaxy cluster MACS0416 is seen here in exquisite detail thanks to a composite image created with data from both NASA's James Webb and Hubble space telescopes.
Scientists are hoping to gain more information about the origins of the Crab Nebula, thanks to new details spotted by the James Webb Space Telescope.
This image shows the Ring Nebula in exceptional detail, like the filament elements in the ring's inner section.
Earendel, the most distant star ever discovered, can be seen in this image of the Sunrise Arc galaxy.
NASA/ESA/CSA/JWST Ring Nebula Team
The Ring Nebula is seen in breathtaking detail, in a composite image released on August 4.
J. DePasquale/CSA/ESA/NASA
The James Webb Space Telescope captured a high-resolution image of a pair of actively forming stars called Herbig-Haro 46/47. The stellar duo, only a few thousand years old, is located at the center of the red diffraction spikes.
NASA/ESA/CSA/Klaus Pontoppidan, STScI
The James Webb Space Telescope captured a detailed closeup of the birth of sunlike stars in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud, the closest star-forming region located 390 light-years from Earth. The young stars release jets that cause the surrounding gas to glow. The image's release marks the first anniversary of Webb's observations of the cosmos.
Saturn and its moons were captured by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope June 25. The image shows details of the planet's atmosphere and ring system.
The James Webb Space Telescope captured the Orion Bar, a part of the Orion Nebula that is being eroded by stellar radiation emanating from the Trapezium Cluster.
This composite image, shot from the James Webb Space Telescope's MIRI and NIRCam instruments, shows the bright clusters of stars and dust from barred spiral galaxy NGC 5068.
Webb captured a burst of star formation triggered by two colliding spiral galaxies called Arp 220. The phenomenon is the closest ultra-luminous galactic merger to Earth.
NASA/ESA/CSA/A. Pagan/A. Gáspár
Dusty rings surround Fomalhaut, a young star outside of our solar system that's 25 light-years from Earth.
NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/Webb ERO Production Team
The Wolf-Rayet star WR 124 was one of the James Webb Space Telescope's first discoveries, spotted in June 2022.
NASA/ESA/CSA/D. D. Milisavljevic/T. Temim/I. De Looze
Stunning details can be seen in this Webb telescope photo of supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, which is 11,000 light-years from Earth.
Space Telescope Science Institut/STScI
Webb's image of ice giant Uranus shows off the planet's incredible rings and a bright haze covering its north polar cap (right). A bright cloud lies at the cap's edge and a second one is seen at left.
The James Webb Space Telescope captured 50,000 sources of near-infrared light in a new image of Pandora's Cluster, a megacluster of galaxies. The cluster acts like a magnifying glass, allowing astronomers to see more distant galaxies behind it.
Stars shine through the hazy material of the Chamaeleon I dark molecular cloud, which is 630 light-years away from Earth.
The James Webb Space Telescope spotted NGC 346, one of the most dynamic star-forming regions near the Milky Way, located in a dwarf galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud.
Two galaxies, known as II ZW96, form a swirl shape while merging in the constellation Delphinus.
The James Webb Space Telescope revealed features of a new protostar forming.
The James Webb Space Telescope captured a new perspective of the Pillars of Creation in mid-infrared light. The dust of this star-forming region, rather than the stars themselves, is the highlight, and resembles ghostly figures.
Webb captured a highly detailed snapshot of the so-called Pillars of Creation, a vista of three looming towers made of interstellar dust and gas that's speckled with newly formed stars. The area, which lies within the Eagle Nebula about 6,500 light-years from Earth, had previously been captured by the Hubble Telescope in 1995, creating an image deemed "iconic" by space observers.
The two stars in WR140 produce shells of dust every eight years that look like rings, as captured by the Webb telescope.
The James Webb Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope contributed to this image of galactic pair VV 191. Webb observed the brighter elliptical galaxy (left) and spiral galaxy (right) in near-infrared light, and Hubble collected data in visible and ultraviolet light.
The James Webb Space Telescope captured spiral galaxy IC 5332, which is over 29 million light-years away. The observatory's MIRI instrument peered through interstellar dust to see the galaxy's "bones."
Webb captured the clearest view of the Neptune's rings in over 30 years.
The inner region of the Orion Nebula as seen by the telescope's NIRCam instrument. The image reveals intricate details about how stars and planetary systems are formed.
NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/Webb ERO Production Team
NASA released a mosaic image of the Tarantula Nebula on Tuesday, September 6. The image, which spans 340 light-years, shows tens of thousands of young stars that were previously obscured by cosmic dust.
A new image of the Phantom Galaxy, which is 32 million light-years away from Earth, combines data from the James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA released an image of Jupiter on Monday, August 22, that shows the planet's famous Great Red Spot appearing white.
The James Webb Space Telescope captured the Cartwheel galaxy, which is around 500 million light-years away, in a photo released by NASA on August 2.
Webb's landscape-like view, called "Cosmic Cliffs," is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. The telescope's infrared view reveals previously invisible areas of star birth.
The five galaxies of Stephan's Quintet can be seen here in a new light. The galaxies appear to dance with one another, showcasing how these interactions can drive galactic evolution.
This side-by-side comparison shows observations of the Southern Ring Nebula in near-infrared light, left, and mid-infrared light, right, from NASA's Webb telescope. The Southern Ring Nebula is 2,000 light-years away from Earth. This large planetary nebula includes an expanding cloud of gas around a dying star, as well as a secondary star earlier on in its evolution.
President Joe Biden released one of Webb's first images on July 11, and it's "the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date," according to NASA. The image shows SMACS 0723, where a massive group of galaxy clusters act as a magnifying glass for the objects behind them. Called gravitational lensing, this created Webb's first deep field view of incredibly old and distant, faint galaxies.

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The James Webb Space Telescope has captured scintillating images of 19 spiral galaxies — and the millions of stars that call them home — in unprecedented detail never seen before by astronomers.

Webb’s singular ability to observe the universe in different wavelengths of infrared light, such as near-infrared and mid-infrared, showcases the stars, gas and dust within the intricate structure of each galaxy.

Astronomers believe that about 60% of all galaxies are spiral galaxies — and our solar system resides in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy. Webb’s observations can help astronomers better understand star formation and the evolution of spiral galaxies like our own.

Seen face-on, each galaxy in the new images has spiral arms laden with stars. The center of each galaxy features clusters of old stars or supermassive black holes.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team
The James Webb Space Telescope captured images of 19 spiral galaxies in near- and mid-infrared light.

The observations were made as part of the PHANGS, or the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS, project. More than 100 astronomers around the world participate in the program, which also looks at data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the European Space Observatory’s Very Large Telescope’s MUSE instrument and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile.

Data from the different telescopes enables astronomers to make observations across different wavelengths of visible, ultraviolet and radio light. Adding Webb’s infrared insights can help address some of the observational gaps.

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

Peering inside the spirals

Astronomers used Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera to observe millions of stars, seen in sparkling blue, grouped together in clusters and spread throughout the arms of the 19 galaxies as well. Meanwhile, Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument puts the spotlight on glowing dust surrounding the stars, as well as red still-forming stars cocooned in the very gas and dust that aids stellar growth.

“These are where we can find the newest, most massive stars in the galaxies,” said Erik Rosolowsky, PHANGS core member and a professor of physics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, in a statement.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team
This image shows both Webb (top left) and Hubble (bottom right) telescope observations of the galaxy NGC 4254.

The spiral arms are practically incandescent with orange and red gas in Webb’s imagery. The images will be used to help astronomers determine the distribution of gas and dust in spiral galaxies, as well as how galaxies both nurture and cease the formation of stars.

“These structures tend to follow the same pattern in certain parts of the galaxies,” Rosolowsky said. “We think of these like waves, and their spacing tells us a lot about how a galaxy distributes its gas and dust.”

Webb also captured large, spherical shell-shaped voids among the galactic gas and dust that were likely sculpted by the explosions of stars.

“These holes may have been created by one or more stars that exploded, carving out giant holes in the interstellar material,” said Adam Leroy, PHANGS core member and a professor of astronomy at the Ohio State University in Columbus, in a statement.

The anatomy of a galaxy

Astronomers think that galaxies form from the inside out.  Star formation begins at the galactic center before rippling across the arms in a spiral. That means a star’s distance from the heart of the galaxy is relative to its age, so younger stars are likely farther from the galactic core. Groupings of blue stars near the centers of each galaxy indicate older stars.

Meanwhile, some galaxies have pinkish-red spikes near their centers.

“That’s a clear sign that there may be an active supermassive black hole,” said Eva Schinnerer, PHANGS core member and a staff scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, in a statement. “Or, the star clusters toward the center are so bright that they have saturated that area of the image.”

Scientists are most excited about studying the massive number of stars revealed by Webb’s new images, according to Leroy.

“Stars can live for billions or trillions of years,” Leroy said. “By precisely cataloging all types of stars, we can build a more reliable, holistic view of their life cycles.”