The Webb Telescope's Latest Image Captured the Stunning Cartwheel Galaxy in Motion

Get a glimpse into star formations 500 million light-years away.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope continues to deliver stunning—and, dare we say it, a little trippy— images of the far reaches of our universe. Most recently, NASA has shared new high quality images of the Cartwheel Galaxy, which is about 500 million light-years away from us. The photos show how the galaxy, and two smaller galaxies, have changed over billions of years.

"Its appearance, much like that of the wheel of a wagon, is the result of an intense event—a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy not visible in this image," is how NASA describes the Cartwheel Galaxy. "Collisions of galactic proportions cause a cascade of different, smaller events between the galaxies involved; the Cartwheel is no exception."

The Cartwheel Galaxy has a ring structure, which is considered much rarer than the structure of the Milky Way, which is a spiral structure. It was previously photographed by other telescopes, but this is the first time it has been captured so clearly—dust surrounding the galaxy made it hard to capture.

"Webb’s observations underscore that the Cartwheel is in a very transitory stage. The galaxy, which was presumably a normal spiral galaxy like the Milky Way before its collision, will continue to transform," NASA continues to detail. "While Webb gives us a snapshot of the current state of the Cartwheel, it also provides insight into what happened to this galaxy in the past and how it will evolve in the future."

As a lay person, I couldn’t describe the scientific specifics of the image above. But as a simple admirer, the circles of pink rings and bright orange dots do inspire an immense amount of awe. You can follow the updates and discoveries of the Webb telescope on NASA’s website.

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.