If you’ve ever wanted to have a little Star Wars moment, now’s your chance. The European Space Agency recently shared a brief video of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) zooming in on a previously reported cartwheel galaxy, and watching it feels akin to making the jump to lightspeed.
What you can see in the cartwheel galaxy video
If you keep up with space news, you’ll know that the original photo, which the JWST shared at the beginning of August, features a spiral cartwheel galaxy and its companion. The former is a result of a cosmic collision.
The cartwheel galaxy video, however, shows plenty of details the photo was unable to capture. The 60-second clip whizzes past clouds and clusters of dust and stars, as well as other distant galaxies glowing in blues and yellows on its way to the final destination. It conveys just how far out the JWST can see.
“Webb’s observations capture Cartwheel in a very transitory stage,” ESA writes. “The form that the Cartwheel Galaxy will eventually take, given these two competing forces, is still a mystery. However, this snapshot provides perspective on what happened to the galaxy in the past and what it will do in the future.”
As the JWST website noted upon the release of the photograph, the galaxy dates back approximately 400 million years. The red streaks that compose the “spokes” of the cartwheel are the result of hydrocarbon-rich dust.
So, what’s next for this shiny new telescope? Current priorities include unraveling the mysteries behind the early universe, studying how galaxies have formed over time, understanding star life cycles, and scoping out potential new worlds. Sounds like it’ll be busy—but that just means more celestial images for our enjoyment.