All is not what it seems in this James Webb Space Telescope image

A face-on galaxy, with gray spiral arms, sprinkled with bright red patches of star formation
A face-on galaxy, with gray spiral arms, sprinkled with bright red patches of star formation (Image credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, L. Armus, A. S. Evans)

During its launch year of 2022, the James Webb Space Telescope had us thrilled. Webb has already spotted some of the most distant starlight ever seen, captured stars forming (opens in new tab), and brought us insane pictures of the cosmos (opens in new tab)

Webb goes a million miles (literally) beyond what the best telescopes for astrophotography (opens in new tab) can view, and after just one year in space, NASA has reported that its optics are "performing nearly twice as well as mission requirements".

New images from the telescope are being released all the time, though, and the latest was A Wreath of Star Formation in NGC 7469 (opens in new tab), which is a gloriously luminous spiral found in the constellation Pegasus. In the image we can see what appears to be a six-pointed star, but this isn't actually a celestial object – rather something known as a diffraction spike produced by bends of light around the telescope.

The image was captured using Webb's Mid-InfraRed Instrument, Near-InfraRed Camera and Near-InfraRed Spectrograph, which NASA explains (opens in new tab) can be used to disperse light from an object into its different wavelengths.

Scientists are constantly analyzing the secrets of Webb datasets and images, which means we could see the mysteries of this starburst revealed even further in the future.

"NGC 7469 is like a cosmic wreath bursting with new stars. This galaxy is very dusty, but Webb’s infrared vision can peer through to observe features like the intense ring of star formation close around its bright center" (Image credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, L. Armus, A. S. Evans)

If you want to see more Webb image releases, head to the James Webb Space Telescope gallery (opens in new tab), where you can see all of Webb's first images and learn more about what they depict. NASA will be launching new images regularly (opens in new tab).

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Lauren Scott
Managing Editor

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 


An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over eight years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)


In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.