Science

The James Webb Space Telescope sees ‘ghostly’ interstellar light

Image of the intracluster light of the cluster SMACS-J0723.3-7327 obtained with the NIRCAM camera on board of JWST. The data have been processed by the IAC team to improve the detection of the faint light between the galaxies (black and white).
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The first deep-field image of the cosmos captured by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has allowed scientists to study the faint, almost ghostly light from orphan stars that exist between galaxies in galaxy clusters.

These stars, which are not gravitationally bound to galaxies, are being pulled from their homes and drifting into intergalactic space by the massive tidal forces generated between galaxies in clusters. The light from these orphan stars is called intracluster light, and is so faint that it’s only one percent the brightness of the darkest sky you can see across Earth.

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