The JWST has dazzled since it began sending images back to Earth, but sometimes even the most advanced space telescope ever needs a little help from a friend. On Monday, the European Space Agency released a new image of the Phantom Galaxy. Located approximately 32 million light years away from Earth, Messier 74 has been a favorite of astronomers ever since it was discovered in 1780 by Pierre Méchain.
What makes the above image of the Phantom Galaxy different from the ones you might have seen in the past is that it’s a composite. It incorporates visible and ultraviolet wavelengths captured by the Hubble Space Telescope with infrared light seen by James Webb Space Telescope. You can see the separate images the two captured below. Webb’s snap of M74 highlights all the gas and dust at the outer edge of the “grand design spiral” galaxy. The image also shows off the nuclear star cluster at its center.
Moreso than being a pretty image, this new view of the Phantom Galaxy is a testament to how much the Hubble Space Telescope has yet to give to the science community. The European Space Agency says Hubble’s observations of M74 revealed star formations known as “HII” regions within the galaxy. You have to admit, that’s pretty good for a telescope that was only expected to stay operational for 15 years but has been going strong for 32 years. “By combining data from telescopes operating across the electromagnetic spectrum, scientists can gain greater insight into astronomical objects than by using a single observatory – even one as powerful as Webb,” the ESA said.