Quasars like the one James Webb just captured are the energy centers of galaxies and can appear very bright in the sky at night. These galaxies often have supermassive black holes at their centers — similar to those in the Milky Way. They are also often enveloped in superheated plasma, sometimes even bursting with enormous amounts of energy.
Named SDSS J165202.64+172852, the newest quasar captured in new James Webb images is believed to have existed in the ancient universe long ago. So the light we see in James Webb’s instrument travels billions of years to reach our region of space.
The attached image above is not the most detailed we’ve seen from James Webb. But the quasar in James Webb’s image is much farther than the recently imaged Pillars of Creation, or even the target in Webb’s first image. Therefore, the telescope has to look through a deeper point in space, which makes the image more blurry.
Quasar image from James Webb. ESA/Weber, NASA and NASA, D. Wylezalek, A. Vayner & the Q3D Team, N. Zakamska
Although the image is blurry, in the latest James-Webb image, you can clearly see the appearance of the quasar and the rainbow knot of the galaxy that surrounds it. The light from the quasar is also redshifted, meaning its wavelength has been stretched by the expansion of the universe, causing it to move more toward the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Previously, some scientists thought the quasar in the James-Webb image might be colliding with another galaxy. With James Webb’s instrument, however, we were able to see a sharper picture, and at least three surrounding galaxies were easily visible in the image. However, they are extremely close together, which is why some people started calling them “knots”.
James Webb was able to peer into the ancient universe, as this new image proves. By using space telescopes to peek at Mars and other planets, we’re also learning more about these planets, and even confirming theories we’ve already formed.