James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) recently looked deep into the Universe and captures a stunning question mark in space. The European Space Agency (ESA) released a fascinating image of two young stars still undergoing the formation process as snapped by James Webb. While studying the newly captured image, ESA’s astronomers spotted a strange cosmic object that looks like a giant question mark in space. The scientists were astonished by this discovery as they have not seen anything like this before.
How the Question Mark In Space Was Studied From Herbig-Haro 46/47 New Image
ESA released the image of twin protostars named Herbig-Haro 46/47 in July 2023. These protostars were located about 1,470 light years away from Earth. Since they are still undergoing their formation process, JWST captured the twin protostars surrounded by a cloud of gas and dust. The twin is superactive protostars as they release powerful jets of materials that come in contact with the surrounding environment.
This collision often generates bright shocks that glow in infrared light. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope used its Near Infrared Camera (NIRCAM) to snap this new image. Keep in mind that JWST is the most sophisticated space telescope ever built and launched in December 2021 to unveil the Universe to Earthlings. It deploys its NIRCam to see through the dust that blurs out the visible light and unveils the hidden features of the star formation process.
While this image appears quite fascinating, astronomers were more attracted to the question mark-looking object that appeared in the lower center. Even though this object has nothing to do with the twin protostars, it still captured the attention of our scientists. Christopher Britt, an education and outreach scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute who assisted in planning these observations as reported by National Geographic studied the question mark object and discovered that it is possibly billions of light-years away from the protesters.
Britt suggests that the question mark in space could be a pair of galaxies that are merging into one. Scientists have discovered several pair of galaxies merging in the past. Hence, it is common to spot two galactic worlds coming together to form one giant galaxy. Astronomers even suggested that our Milky Way Galaxy will collide with Andromeda Galaxy and merge into one giant elliptical galaxy in the next billion years.
The Hypothesis Discovered By Scientists About The Question Mark
Astronomers discovered a hypothesis based on the shape of the question mark. Britt reveals that he noticed two bright spots on the object. One of these spots is in the curve while the other is in the dot. The astronomer assumes that the spot in the dot could be the centers of galaxies while the curve of the question may exist due to gravitational forces pulling out numerous stars and gas from the galaxies as they head towards each other direction.
David Helfand, an astronomer at Columbia Universe revealed that the human brains are made to discover patterns at random, pointing out many instances of serendipitous images spotted in space. Helfand suggests that the question is not a single object but two or more aligning from our view. He says that they might also be unrelated objects that have separate distances from each other.
Britt says that measuring the distance of the object based on only colors could mislead people. This is because the red color of the question mark in space could imply that the object is extremely far away and has its light been stretched by the expanding Universe. Britt also says that the red light could imply that the object is closer to us. However, the dust near it blurs out our view from seeing it clearly.
Measuring the Distance of the Mysterious Question Mark
Astronomers still have to conduct more observations to determine the exact distance of the question mark in space. Measuring its brightness via different filters and comparing it with known objects could be one fascinating method to accomplish this. Following this method would enable astronomers to know the approximate distance, Britt concludes. Another method to estimate the distance is to study its spectrum and figure out its chemical composition.
This second method would provide a more exact distance. However, astronomers would have to rely on a different instrument that is more powerful than NIRCam. Since the JWST has other powerful instruments to execute such operations, Britt remains hopeful that future observations from the most sophisticated telescope of our time could solve the mystery.
During a recent observation, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captured detailed images of a question mark in space. While this image fascinates scientists, more observations are still required to determine the exact distance and features of the mysterious cosmic object. What do you think about this astronomical discovery?