The James Webb Space Telescope continues its groundbreaking discoveries without slowing down. NASA’s James Webb Telescope has recently discovered the coldest interstellar ice ever seen.
NASA’s most powerful space observatory ever, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or Webb), has observed deep within a dense molecular cloud and found a rich variety of intact interstellar ice, including a set of molecules crucial to life.
Another success from James Webb
Webb observed a molecular space cloud that scientists named Chameleon I. Located about 500 light-years from Earth, this place is one of the closest star forming regions to have young star formations. Scientists could not observe some points in this area further because in some areas there is such dense gas and dust that the background light required for observation could not pass through them. Gas, dust, and other materials found in clouds like Chameleon I collapse over time to form stars and planets. The chemistry of the systems to be formed is determined by the molecules in the cloud.
Now, thanks to Webb’s powerful tools, including its infrared camera (NIRCam), astronomers have probed the dusty heart of Chameleon I and discovered massive amounts of ice in the cloud. These ices contain vital elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur. Therefore, the cloud is very rich in the formation of water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane and ammonia.
“We wouldn’t have observed without James Webb”
“We wouldn’t be able to observe these ices without Webb,” explains Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Webb’s excellent precision was required to identify the ice in the cloud.”
As a result of the observations, the dusty heart of Chameleon I is at -263 degrees Celsius. The observed area is also in the early stages of a protostar formation. By the way, the observations made by Webb are actually quite simple. However, this simplicity requires a high degree of precision. Webb’s data from space is actually created by examining light spectra. In this research he used light from two stars behind Chameleon I.