NASA’s James Webb Telescope gives a whole new view of a distant black hole

The James Webb Space Telescope Scientists have provided scientists with an unprecedented view of a distant black hole, as they peer through layers of dust to trace the structure and composition of material orbiting the massive object.

Webb recently referred to the near-infrared spectrophotometer, or NIRSpec instrument, in Black hole Extremely massive in the heart of the upper galaxy seen in Stephan’s Quintet Webb image, one of the first five full-color images of Webb released by NASA and collaborating agencies on July 12. The picture shows five galaxies It appears to be very close, although the fifth is much closer to Earth.

Spectrophotometers separate light into its component wavelengths, and since different elements absorb light at known wavelengths, the resulting spectrum allows scientists to determine the chemical composition of a substance that emits or passes through light. Because NIRSpec is an infrared spectrophotometer, it was able to collect a spectrum of supermassive black despite being surrounded by stardust.

The result, as explained by European Space Agency In an illustration and a series of Twitter posts, is that Webb saw the supermassive black hole at wavelengths not previously observed, which correspond to atomic hydrogen, molecular hydrogen or two bonded hydrogen atoms, and electrically charged iron ions in the gas surrounding the black hole.

Illustration of the chemical composition and structure of a supermassive black hole by the James Webb Space Telescope’s Near Infrared Scale Instrument

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Taken together, NIRSpec’s analysis of these elements allowed scientists to map the structure of the gas flowing into the black hole to be consumed, as well as the outflows, gas emitted by powerful radiation jets generated by the black hole’s intense pressure. Gas and dust circulate around the black hole.

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NIRSpec is a powerful tool for understanding the chemical elements and structures of distant objects, and scientists will use it to study not only black holes, but also stars, galaxies and planets. The spectrum of the exoplanet Wasp-96b was captured using NIRSpec as one of the first five web images released to the public.

NIRSpec was built by a consortium of European companies for the European Space Agency, and is one of three partner agencies to build the Webb Telescope, which also includes Container and the Canadian Space Agency. After more than 20 years of development, $10 billion, and months of implementation and calibration, Webb now practices science almost constantly, so the pace of new discoveries and images is likely to be faster than previously thought. Until now.

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