Stephan's Quintet (NIRCam + MIRI Image)

Stsci_2022-034a_1024

stsci_2022-034a July 12th, 2022

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

An enormous mosaic of Stephan’s Quintet is the largest image to date from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, covering about one-fifth of the Moon’s diameter. It contains over 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files. The visual grouping of five galaxies was captured by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).

With its powerful, infrared vision and extremely high spatial resolution, Webb shows never-before-seen details in this galaxy group. Sparkling clusters of millions of young stars and starburst regions of fresh star birth grace the image. Sweeping tails of gas, dust and stars are being pulled from several of the galaxies due to gravitational interactions. Most dramatically, Webb’s MIRI instrument captures huge shock waves as one of the galaxies, NGC 7318B, smashes through the cluster. These regions surrounding the central pair of galaxies are shown in the colors red and gold.

This composite NIRCam-MIRI image uses two of the three MIRI filters to best show and differentiate the hot dust and structure within the galaxy. MIRI sees a distinct difference in color between the dust in the galaxies versus the shock waves between the interacting galaxies. The image processing specialists at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore opted to highlight that difference by giving MIRI data the distinct yellow and orange colors, in contrast to the blue and white colors assigned to stars at NIRCam’s wavelengths.

Together, the five galaxies of Stephan’s Quintet are also known as the Hickson Compact Group 92 (HCG 92). Although called a “quintet,” only four of the galaxies are truly close together and caught up in a cosmic dance. The fifth and leftmost galaxy, called NGC 7320, is well in the foreground compared with the other four. NGC 7320 resides 40 million light-years from Earth, while the other four galaxies (NGC 7317, NGC 7318A, NGC 7318B, and NGC 7319) are about 290 million light-years away. This is still fairly close in cosmic terms, compared with more distant galaxies billions of light-years away. Studying these relatively nearby galaxies helps scientists better understand structures seen in a much more distant universe.

This proximity provides astronomers a ringside seat for witnessing the merging of and interactions between galaxies that are so crucial to all of galaxy evolution. Rarely do scientists see in so much exquisite detail how interacting galaxies trigger star formation in each other, and how the gas in these galaxies is being disturbed. Stephan’s Quintet is a fantastic “laboratory” for studying these processes fundamental to all galaxies.

Tight groups like this may have been more common in the early universe when their superheated, infalling material may have fueled very energetic black holes called quasars. Even today, the topmost galaxy in the group – NGC 7319 – harbors an active galactic nucleus, a supermassive black hole that is actively accreting material.

In NGC 7320, the leftmost and closest galaxy in the visual grouping, NIRCam was remarkably able to resolve individual stars and even the galaxy’s bright core. Old, dying stars that are producing dust clearly stand out as red points with NIRCam.

The new information from Webb provides invaluable insights into how galactic interactions may have driven galaxy evolution in the early universe.

As a bonus, NIRCam and MIRI revealed a vast sea of many thousands of distant background galaxies reminiscent of Hubble’s Deep Fields.

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.

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

Provider: Space Telescope Science Institute

Image Source: https://webbtelescope.org/contents/news-releases/2022/news-2022-034

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

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

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Stephan's Quintet HCG 92
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy > Grouping > Cluster
Galaxy > Activity > AGN > Seyfert

Distance

Universescale3
290,000,000 light years
Stsci_2022-034a_128
 

Position Details

Position (FK5)
RA = 22h 35m 49.7s
DEC = 33° 57’ 41.3”
Orientation
North is 118.1° CCW
Field of View
-6.3 x -6.1 arcminutes
Constellation
Pegasus

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 900.0 nm
Blue Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 1.5 µm
Green Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 2.0 µm
Yellow Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 2.8 µm
Red Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 3.6 µm
Red Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 4.4 µm
Orange Webb (MIRI) Infrared 7.8 µm
Red Webb (MIRI) Infrared 10.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Blue
Blue
Green
Yellow
Red
Red
Orange
Red
Stsci_2022-034a_1280
×
ID
2022-034a
Subject Category
C.5.5.3   C.5.3.2.2  
Subject Name
Stephan's Quintet, HCG 92
Credits
NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team
Release Date
2022-07-12T00:00:00
Lightyears
290,000,000
Redshift
290,000,000
Reference Url
https://webbtelescope.org/contents/news-releases/2022/news-2022-034
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb
Instrument
NIRCam, NIRCam, NIRCam, NIRCam, NIRCam, NIRCam, MIRI, MIRI
Color Assignment
Blue, Blue, Green, Yellow, Red, Red, Orange, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
900, 1500, 2000, 2770, 3560, 4440, 7770, 10000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
FK5
Equinox
Reference Value
338.9572094220000054, 33.9614640786999971
Reference Dimension
12654.0000000000000000, 12132.0000000000000000
Reference Pixel
8316.3881835899992438, 2577.8342285200001243
Scale
0.0000083351621758, -0.0000083351621758
Rotation
118.0545966517047560
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
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-p22034a-f-12654x12132.tif
Metadata Date
2022-07-10T13:16:05-04:00
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
290,000,000 light years