NASA revealed the image of the mysterious distant galaxy on Tuesday. It was given the nickname “cartwheel” because of how it resembles a wheel. According to the agency, the Cartwheel Galaxy is located in the Sculptor constellation, around 500 million light-years away.
The image shows the Cartwheel Galaxy with two “smaller partner galaxies against a background of many additional galaxies.” NASA claims that the Cartwheel Galaxy, which is surrounded by a multicolored ring and has a bright inner circle, is the consequence of a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy.
NASA claims that the right inner ring of the galaxy has an enormous amount of hot dust, with giant newborn star clusters located in its brightest regions. The outer ring has been expanding from the collision’s center for more than 440 million years. When it enlarges and collides with the surrounding gas, stars are created.
The Cartwheel Galaxy is a “ring galaxy,” which is more uncommon than spiral galaxies like the Milky Way. Its rings spread outward from the collision’s center.
Combining photos from Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), this composite image of the Cartwheel and its companion galaxies reveals details challenging to see in the individual photographs.
NASA has made numerous attempts, including using the Hubble Space Telescope, to capture a clear image of the mysterious galaxy, but has been unsuccessful due to the amount of dust obstructing the view. However, the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) of the improved Webb Space Telescope has captured n-depth images of the newborn stars forming in the outer solar system.
Moreover, the image also showed what happened to the Cartwheel Galaxy in the past and how it is anticipated to change. According to NASA, the galaxy is currently in a transitional condition and was “presumably a normal galaxy like the Milky Way before its collision.”