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See James Webb Space Telescope's incredible reach into the universe (video)

It's time to take a deep dive into the universe.

A new video released by the James Webb Space Telescope collaboration shows an epic zoom-in through stars and other objects to land upon a spectacular galaxy called the Cartwheel Galaxy.

Webb's infrared investigations are allowing scientists to peer through obscuring dust in the region to see starbirth, along with clutches of newborn stars around a central supermassive black hole.

Related: Stunning James Webb Space Telescope image shows stars forming in strange wheel-shaped galaxy
Gallery:
James Webb Space Telescope's 1st photos

James Webb Space Telelscope's MIRI camera reveals areas rich in hydrocarbons and silicate dust. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)

"Webb's observations capture Cartwheel in a very transitory stage," European Space Agency (ESA) officials wrote in a caption with the video, posted on YouTube (opens in new tab) on Monday (Aug. 8).

The Cartwheel is roughly 500 million light-years from our planet and is termed a ring galaxy, which is a rare kind of galaxy. Scientists think the Cartwheel used to be a spiral galaxy, similar to our Milky Way, but a crash roughly 700 million or 800 million years ago altered its future.

The collision, likely with a smaller galaxy, created two rings. The outer ring is moving away dust and gas in the galactic region, which is triggering star formation. The other ring surrounds the galaxy itself.

"The form that the Cartwheel Galaxy will eventually take, given these two competing forces, is still a mystery," ESA officials wrote. "However, this snapshot provides perspective on what happened to the galaxy in the past and what it will do in the future."

Webb has already reached far into the universe, even though the observatory has only been fully operational for a few weeks. The $10 billion telescope launched Dec. 25, 2021, and wrapped up its commissioning period last month.

Its images so far include a view of the farthest star we've seen to date (it's called Earendel, a "Lord of the Rings" reference), a haunting "Phantom Galaxy" and the deepest view of the universe we've ever seen.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.