A phantom in the Universe: The James Webb Space Telescope has 'captured' the heart of M74 – also known as the Phantom Galaxy. Webb's sharp vision has revealed fine filaments of gas and dust in the giant spiral arms that wind outwards from the centre of this image. The absence of gas in the central region also provides an unobstructed view of the nuclear cluster at the centre of the galaxy. In particular, Webb highlights the masses of gas and dust in the galaxy arms and the dense cluster of stars in its core. Webb has been peering into M74 with its Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) to learn more about the earliest stages of star formation in the local Universe. These observations are part of a larger project by the international PHANGS collaboration to map 19 nearby star-forming galaxies in the infrared. These galaxies have already been observed by the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories. The additional crystal-clear Webb observations at longer wavelengths will allow astronomers to locate star-forming regions in galaxies, accurately measure the mass and age of star clusters, and gain insights into the nature of the tiny dust grains that drift in interstellar space. © ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team
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Last update: 13 December 2021

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