The James Webb Space Telescope and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have joined forces to better understand a vast galaxy cluster known as MACS0416. The results of the study, reported in The Astrophysical Journal, show the panoramic view of the galactic cluster MACS0416.
The image was created by combining Webb’s infrared observations with Hubble’s visible light data. The resulting wavelength coverage, from 0.4 to 5 microns, has revealed a vivid landscape of galaxies whose colors provide clues about the distances of the galaxies.
Those that appear more blue are relatively close and often exhibit intense star formation, as better detected by Hubble, while the redder galaxies tend to be more distant or contain abundant amounts of cosmic dust that tends to absorb the bluer colors of starlight, as detected by Webb.
The image reveals a wealth of details that can only be captured by combining the power of both space telescopes. Located about 4.3 billion light-years from Earth, MACS0416 is a pair of colliding galaxy clusters that will eventually merge to form an even larger cluster.
It includes a large number of galaxies outside the cluster and a series of sources that vary over time, likely due to gravitational lensing, the distortion, and amplification of light from distant background sources. This cluster was the first of a series of super-deep and unprecedented views of the universe, the result of an ambitious collaborative program by Hubble called Frontier Fields, launched in 2014.
Hubble has been a pioneer in the search for some of the faintest and youngest galaxies ever detected. Webb’s infrared vision significantly enhances this deep gaze, delving even further into the primordial universe with its infrared capabilities.