The Webb telescope has captured the Crab Nebula in a new way since its last photo taken in 2005.
Using Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument), a team led by Tea Temim at Princeton University is searching for answers about the Crab Nebula’s origins. In the new photo captured by the team scientists were able to identify a new structure in the supernova not previously seen in the 2005 Hubble telescope photo.
At first glance, the general shape of the supernova remnant is similar to the optical wavelength image released in 2005 by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. In Webb’s infrared observation, a crisp, cage-like structure of fluffy gaseous filaments is shown in red-orange. However, in the central regions, emission from dust grains (yellow-white and green) is mapped out by Webb for the first time.
The search for answers about the Crab Nebula’s past continues as astronomers further analyze the Webb data and consult previous observations of the remnant taken by other telescopes. Scientists will have newer Hubble data to review within the next year or so from the telescope’s reimaging of the supernova remnant. This will mark Hubble’s first look at emission lines from the Crab Nebula in over 20 years and will enable astronomers to more accurately compare Webb and Hubble’s findings.
Head to NASA’s website to see a close-up side-by-side of the two photos captured by Webb and Hubble.