Southern Ring Nebula (NIRCam and MIRI Images Side by Side)

Stsci_2022-033a_1024

stsci_2022-033a July 12th, 2022

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

This side-by-side comparison shows observations of the Southern Ring Nebula in near-infrared light, at left, and mid-infrared light, at right, from NASA’s Webb Telescope.

This scene was created by a white dwarf star – the remains of a star like our Sun after it shed its outer layers and stopped burning fuel though nuclear fusion. Those outer layers now form the ejected shells all along this view.

In the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) image, the white dwarf appears to the lower left of the bright, central star, partially hidden by a diffraction spike. The same star appears – but brighter, larger, and redder – in the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) image. This white dwarf star is cloaked in thick layers of dust, which make it appear larger.

The brighter star in both images hasn’t yet shed its layers. It closely orbits the dimmer white dwarf, helping to distribute what it’s ejected.

Over thousands of years and before it became a white dwarf, the star periodically ejected mass – the visible shells of material. As if on repeat, it contracted, heated up – and then, unable to push out more material, pulsated. Stellar material was sent in all directions – like a rotating sprinkler – and provided the ingredients for this asymmetrical landscape.

Today, the white dwarf is heating up the gas in the inner regions – which appear blue at left and red at right. Both stars are lighting up the outer regions, shown in orange and blue, respectively.

The images look very different because NIRCam and MIRI collect different wavelengths of light. NIRCam observes near-infrared light, which is closer to the visible wavelengths our eyes detect. MIRI goes farther into the infrared, picking up mid-infrared wavelengths. The second star more clearly appears in the MIRI image, because this instrument can see the gleaming dust around it, bringing it more clearly into view.

The stars – and their layers of light – steal more attention in the NIRCam image, while dust plays the lead in the MIRI image, specifically dust that is illuminated.

Peer at the circular region at the center of both images. Each contains a wobbly, asymmetrical belt of material. This is where two “bowls” that make up the nebula meet. (In this view, the nebula is at a 40-degree angle.) This belt is easier to spot in the MIRI image – look for the yellowish circle – but is also visible in the NIRCam image.

The light that travels through the orange dust in the NIRCam image – which look like spotlights – disappear at longer infrared wavelengths in the MIRI image.

In near-infrared light, stars have more prominent diffraction spikes because they are so bright at these wavelengths. In mid-infrared light, diffraction spikes also appear around stars, but they are fainter and smaller (zoom in to spot them).

Physics is the reason for the difference in the resolution of these images. NIRCam delivers high-resolution imaging because these wavelengths of light are shorter. MIRI supplies medium-resolution imagery because its wavelengths are longer – the longer the wavelength, the coarser the images are. But both deliver an incredible amount of detail about every object they observe – providing never-before-seen vistas of the universe.

For a full array of Webb’s first images and spectra, including downloadable files, please visit: https://webbtelescope.org/news/first-images

NIRCam was built by a team at the University of Arizona and Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center.

MIRI was contributed by ESA and NASA, with the instrument designed and built by a consortium of nationally funded European Institutes (The MIRI European Consortium) in partnership with JPL and the University of Arizona.

Provider: Space Telescope Science Institute

Image Source: https://webbtelescope.org/contents/news-releases/2022/news-2022-033

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

Image Use Policy: http://hubblesite.org/copyright/

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Image Details

Image Type
Collage
Object Name
NGC 3132 Southern Ring Nebula Eight-Burst Nebula
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula > Type > Planetary

Distance

Universescale1
2,000 light years

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 10h 7m 1.7s
DEC = -40° 26’ 11.2”
Constellation
Vela

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 900.0 nm
Cyan Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 1.9 µm
Green Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 2.1 µm
Yellow Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 3.6 µm
Red Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 4.1 µm
Red Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 4.7 µm
Blue Webb (MIRI) Infrared 7.7 µm
Cyan Webb (MIRI) Infrared 11.3 µm
Green Webb (MIRI) Infrared 12.8 µm
Red Webb (MIRI) Infrared 18.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Blue
Cyan
Green
Yellow
Red
Red
Blue
Cyan
Green
Red
Stsci_2022-033a_1280
×
ID
2022-033a
Subject Category
B.4.1.3  
Subject Name
NGC 3132, Southern Ring Nebula, Eight-Burst Nebula
Credits
NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team
Release Date
2022-07-12T11:00:00
Lightyears
2,000
Redshift
2,000
Reference Url
https://webbtelescope.org/contents/news-releases/2022/news-2022-033
Type
Collage
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Distance in lightyears
Facility
Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb
Instrument
NIRCAM, NIRCAM, NIRCAM, NIRCAM, NIRCAM, NIRCAM, MIRI, MIRI, MIRI, MIRI
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Yellow, Red, Red, Blue, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
900, 1870, 2120, 3560, 4050, 4700, 7700, 11300, 12800, 18000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
2000.0
Reference Value
151.75705520150, -40.43643336052
Reference Dimension
Reference Pixel
Scale
Rotation
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Position
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
STScI
URL
http://hubblesite.org
Name
Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach
Email
outreach@stsci.edu
Telephone
410-338-4444
Address
3700 San Martin Drive
City
Baltimore
State/Province
MD
Postal Code
21218
Country
USA
Rights
http://hubblesite.org/copyright/
Publisher
STScI
Publisher ID
stsci
Resource ID
STSCI-J-p22033a-f-9284x4310.tif
Metadata Date
2022-07-07T17:14:11-04:00
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

×
Universescalefull
2,000 light years