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13-Billion-Year-Old "Phantom Galaxy" Revealed In Brilliant JWST Photos

Scientists combined the data collected from the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope and gave us a new look at the Phantom Galaxy.

This image is divided evenly into 3 different views of the same region in the Phantom Galaxy.
ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team; ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Chandar Acknowledgement: J. Schmidt

It’s a collab for the ages: the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) joined forces with the Hubble Space Telescope to give us two different, incredibly detailed looks at a faraway galaxy.

By combining data of a “Phantom galaxy,” also known as M74 — a galaxy located in the Pisces constellation — from both telescopes, we now have an incredible new look at the galaxy in stunning details we've never seen before.

The 13 billion-year-old galaxy is approximately 32 million light-years from Earth, and the new images allow us to see it like never before. Here's what you need to know.

Scientists combined the data collected from the 32-year-old Hubble Space Telescope — which captures the visible light spectrum — and the JWST — which captures the infrared spectrum, explains. These two data sets together show the Phantom Galaxy, also known as the M74, in detail we've never seen before, and it's stunning.

ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team. Acknowledgement: J. Schmidt

"When combined, observations by the two great space telescopes provide a comprehensive view of the galaxy, including regions in which stars form that can be seen as reddish bubbles scattered across the spiral arms," continues.

All three of the images are incredible. The image from Hubble, which shows redder splotches and gasses, gives an ethereal vibe to the galaxy. But, by contrast, the image from JWST looks like an artistic interpretation of what the cosmos would look like, so it's incredible to see those details from the telescope.

The combined images show dust, gas clouds, and regions where it looks like new stars are forming in the galaxy. It also highlights the nuclear center of the Phantom Galaxy — which can't be seen in the non-merged images — and the spiral arms are clearly defined.

ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team; ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Chandar Acknowledgement: J. Schmidt

"By combining data from telescopes operating across the electromagnetic spectrum, scientists can gain greater insight into astronomical objects than by using a single observatory — even one as powerful as Webb!" the official European Space Agency Webb (ESAWebb) Instagram explains.

"The addition of crystal-clear Webb observations at longer wavelengths will allow astronomers to pinpoint star-forming regions in the galaxies," ESA said. The observations will also allow scientists to "accurately measure the masses and ages of star clusters, and gain insights into the nature of the small grains of dust drifting in interstellar space."

M47 is particularly exciting for scientists because it mimics our Milky Way galaxy in many ways and might hold the answers about galactic evolution. The scientific teams will continue to analyze the data from the combined images and what they learn will help shape our understanding of how the Universe develops.