See NASA's newly-captured "treasure trove" of 19 spiral galaxies


A “treasure trove” of stunning new images showing 19 spiral galaxies have been captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the European Space Agency said on Monday. The images reveal “stars, gas, and dust on the smallest scales ever observed beyond our own galaxy,” the Milky Way, the agency said. 

According to the agency, researchers are analyzing the new images to find out how these galaxies originated. NASA says they were taken as part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) program, and show off millions of stars that “sparkle in blue tones.” They also reveal “glowing dust,” and stars that are still developing, NASA said. 

Some of the “newest, most massive stars in the galaxies,” can be found in the images, said Erik Rosolowsky, a physics professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. PHANGS researchers have also released what NASA says is the largest catalog ever of roughly 100,000 star clusters, a list that Rosolowsky says allows for analysis “vastly larger than anything our team could possibly handle.” 

But that isn’t all. Researchers said the galaxy pictures also show off “large, spherical shells” that were possibly created by exploding stars, as well as supermassive black holes, which can be seen as galaxy cores with pink and red spikes. 

Janice Lee, a project scientist for strategic initiatives at Baltimore, Maryland’s Space Telescope Science Institute, said the galaxy images are “extraordinary.” 

“They’re mind-blowing even for researchers who have studied these same galaxies for decades,” Lee said. “Bubbles and filaments are resolved down to the smallest scales ever observed, and tell a story about the star formation cycle.” 

See the 19 new images of spiral galaxies below. 

Spiral galaxy IC 5332

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Face-on spiral galaxy, IC 5332, was captured by the James Webb Space Telescope and shows dust glowing in infrared light. IC 5332 is 30 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), Rupali Chandar (UToledo), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 628

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Webb’s image of spiral galaxy NGC 628 shows it’s densely populated and anchored by its central region, which has a light blue haze. Within its core are older stars, represented by blue lights. NGC 628 is 32 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 1087

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This image of NGC 1087 shows so much light that the galaxy’s arms “look muddled,” James Webb researchers said. NGC 1087 is 80 million light-years away in the constellation Cetus.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), Rupali Chandar (UToledo), PHANGS Team


NGC 1300

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NGC 1300’s center is highlighted by a bright white point, surrounded by a yellow circle, and according to James Webb researchers, is “tiny compared to the rest of the galaxy.” NGC 1300 is 69 million light-years away in the constellation Eridanus.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


NGC 1365

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NGC 1365’s core covers roughly an eighth of the entire image, with the central region looking “like an angled, smashed oval” with six light white diffraction spikes, James Webb researchers said. NGC 1365 is 56 million light-years away in the constellation Fornax.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


NGC 1385

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James Webb researchers say this image shows NGC 1385 as a “messy” galaxy with a difficult-to-distinguish spiral shape. NGC 1385 is 30 million light-years away in the constellation Fornax.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy 1433

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The central core of Spiral Galaxy 1433 takes up roughly a fifth of this James Webb image, researchers said, and a blue haze of stars make up a “large bar structure.” NGC 1433 is 46 million light-years away in the constellation Horologium.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 1512

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Along with the spiral galaxy, this James Webb image also shows “two larger foreground stars with at least six different diffraction spikes,” researchers said. NGC 1512 is 30 million light-years away in the constellation Horologium.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 1566

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Researchers say the “densely populated” spiral galaxy NGC 1566 features two prominent arms as well as “innumerable bright blue pinpoints of light.” The galaxy is 60 million light-years away in the constellation Dorado.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), Rupali Chandar (UToledo), Daniela Calzetti (UMass), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 1672

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This galaxy’s spiral shape is not as apparent in this James Webb image, researchers said, but NGC 1672 is acnhored by its center and features “two spiny orange” arms that rotate clockwise. NGC 1672 is 60 million light-years away in the constellation Dorado.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 2835

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The dense spiral galaxy NGC 2835 has a central region “immediately engulfed in the orange spiral arms,” James Webb researchers said, and was seen with a “blue glow of stars” that spread outward from its core. The pink and blue lights toward the bottom of the image are likely background galaxies. NGC 2835 is 35 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 3351

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This image of NGC 3351 is just a still, but James Webb researchers say the spiral arms that form a roughly circular shape around it make it appear “as if there’s movement.” NGC 3351 is 33 million light-years away in the constellation Leo.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 3627

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The spiral galaxy NGC 3627 features two spiny arms and was captured by the James Webb telescope with stars seen “scattered across the packed scene.” NGC 3627 is 36 million light-years away in the constellation Leo.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 4254

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This James Webb scene of a “densely populated” galaxy shows NGC 4254 with counterclockwise spiny arms and lots of stars scattered across the galaxy. NGC 4254 is 50 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 4303

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The spiral galaxy NGC 4303’s central region is seen about midway down in this image, and clusters of blue stars can be seen throughout. NGC 4303 is 55 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo.

NASA, ESA, CSA, ESO, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 4321

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This spiral galaxy is shaped like a “smashed circle,” according to James Webb researchers, and features a prominent spiral arm across the bottom of the image. NGC 4321 is 55 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 4535

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NGC 4535 was captured by the James Webb Space Telescope as having a small central region with a light orange haze and “filaments of flowing dust” crossing into its spirals, according to James Webb researchers. The galaxy is 50 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 5068

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NGC 5068 is a spiral galaxy, although its shape is hard to register with the image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. Some of the lighter red areas “look like smoke drifting up,” researchers said. NGC 5068 is 20 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team


Spiral galaxy NGC 7496

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This spiral galaxy captured by the James Webb Space Telescope reveals the galaxy’s core is small compared to the rest of the galaxy, with the central region starting “as a bright white dot that melts into bright oranges,” according to researchers. NGC 7496 is 24 million light-years away in the constellation Grus.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team





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