Being a relatively close neighbor to the Milky Way at 32 million light-years away, M74, otherwise known as the Phantom Galaxy, is a popular target for astronomers.
Using the new powerful Webb Space Telescope, NASA and the European Space Agency provided a stunning look into the galaxy’s heart.
The ESA said that the galaxy’s lack of gas in its nuclear region provided an unobscured view of the nuclear star cluster at the galaxy’s center. Images also showed filaments of dust and gas in spiral arms around the galaxy.
Previous estimates have said that the galaxy contains 100 billion stars. Because of its orientation and relatively close distance, it is a top galaxy for astronomers to examine.
Although it’s a great galaxy for professionals to study, its magnitude makes it challenging for amateur astronomers to view.
The latest image is among several released by NASA and the ESA since the Webb Telescope began operating earlier this summer. The telescope has allowed scientists to examine galaxies up to 13.1 billion light-years away. The telescope’s spectrograph permits NASA to explore galaxies’ chemical composition.
The Webb telescope is replacing the Hubble telescope as NASA’s primary view of deep space.
NASA released the first set of images from the telescope on July 12.