NASA’s James Webb Telescope is looking into the great beyond, providing us with great views of space. Today, NASA shared a photo the telescope has taken of Cassiopeia A.
Since NASA’s NIRCam is used for taking near-infrared photos, we can assume that many features of this wouldn’t be visible to the human eye. To get the photo above, image processors and scientists had to translate wavelengths of light to visible colors.
The most notable features of the image are clumps in bright orange and light pink. These make up the inner shell of the supernova remnant. This includes the tiniest knots of gas, comprised of sulfur, oxygen, argon, and neon from the star itself. Inside this gas is a mixture of dust and molecules, which could become components of new stars and planetary systems someday.
Some filaments of debris in this area are too tiny to be seen by the telescope, meaning they are less than 100 billion mils across. In comparison, Cassiopeia A is 10 light years across, or 60 trillion miles.
With NIRCam’s resolution, we can now see how the dying star absolutely shattered when it exploded, leaving filaments akin to tiny shards of glass behind. It’s really unbelievable after all these years studying Cas A to now resolve those details, which are providing us with transformational insight into how this star exploded.”Danny Milisavljevic of Purdue University
At the bottom of the photo, researchers were stunned to notice something different. They are calling it Baby Cas A, and it’s light from the explosion. It’s constantly warming distant dust, which is glowing when it cools. Baby Cas A is located about 170 light years behind the supernova remnant.