James Webb telescope captures stunning starburst in distant galaxy

Infrared observations from the James Webb Telescope have surpassed the capabilities of earlier telescopes
An undated image showcasing I Zwicky 18. — ESA/Webb
An undated image showcasing I Zwicky 18. — ESA/Webb 

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has made a ground-breaking discovery that shows a captivating starburst in an old galaxy. I Zwicky 18, an irregular dwarf galaxy in the Ursa Major constellation, is 59 million light-years away and has amazed astronomers with its unusual features.

According to Live Science, the distinct features of the galaxy have sparked scientists' curiosity. I Zwicky 18, despite its odd name, is notable for its irregular shape and sudden outbursts of star formation, as revealed by the most recent JWST infrared observations. The amazing picture shows two bright regions surrounded by brown filaments of heated gas in the galaxy's centre, which is thought to be the concentration of newly formed stars.

These star formation bursts may be caused, in particular, by the gravitational pull of a nearby galaxy. Located beneath I Zwicky 18, the smaller companion could be important in inducing star formation in the dwarf galaxy. I Zwicky 18, named for its discoverer Fritz Zwicky, a Swiss astronomer who observed it in the 1930s, continues to astonish scientists with its secrets.

The impressive background of hundreds of oval-shaped galaxies, some of which appear white and others tinged with orange due to their great distance, makes I Zwicky 18 and its neighbouring galaxy such a captivating sight. The image provides new insights into the history and evolution of the galaxy and builds upon earlier Hubble Space Telescope observations. It is part of a programme to study the dust life cycle within I Zwicky 18.

Infrared observations from the James Webb Telescope have surpassed the capabilities of earlier telescopes, such as Hubble, in providing a deeper understanding of the star formation activity of I Zwicky 18. Astronomers seek to understand the workings of the universe and the processes forming far-off galaxies by exploring the past and present of the galaxy.