March 25, 2023
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured an awe-inspiring image of galaxy JW100, located over 800 million light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. The galaxy, also known as a "jellyfish" galaxy, is a stunning sight with its streams of star-forming gas that appear like streaks of fresh paint dripping from the disk of the galaxy.
Astronomers believe that this remarkable appearance is created by a process called ram pressure stripping, which occurs when galaxies encounter the diffuse gas in galaxy clusters. As JW100 plows through this tenuous gas, it strips gas and dust from the galaxy, creating the trailing streamers that give it the appearance of dangling tentacles.
In addition to JW100, the image also captures other galaxies in the cluster. Toward the top of the image are two bright blotches surrounded by a remarkably bright area of diffuse light, which is the core of IC 5338, the brightest galaxy in the cluster. IC 5338 is an elliptical galaxy with an extended halo and is known as a cD galaxy. These galaxies consume smaller galaxies, and it's not unusual for them to have multiple nuclei.
The image also reveals a rich population of globular star clusters studding the galaxy's outer fringes, which adds to its captivating beauty.
This stunning observation is part of a sequence of observations designed to explore star formation in the tendrils of jellyfish galaxies. These tendrils represent star formation under extreme conditions and could help astronomers better understand the process of star formation elsewhere in the universe.
The data was captured using Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3, which has incredible capabilities, and it's no surprise that the image is truly breathtaking.