Dust is both an astronomer’s dream and nightmare.
This dense material, which lines the galactic spiral arms, leads directly to the formation of new stars.
But it is also opaque: it prevents us from seeing the light sources inside.
To truly understand how dust affects galaxy evolution, multi-wavelength views are necessary.
ALMA detects individual molecules and ions in galaxies at very long wavelengths.
Hubble and ground-based observatories can directly measure stars, starlight, and energized regions.
But only with JWSTand specifically its MIRI device, dust can be detected directly.
The Pphysics at Hhigh ANDangular resolution v Near GalaxiaWITH The survey (PHANGS) aims to explain the entire galactic life cycle of matter.
They sampled 19 nearby spiral galaxies, showing their insides in unprecedented detail.
The dust almost perfectly follows the spiral arms where new stars form.
Galaxies with rich central bulges harbor seedbeds of activity within.
Young, newly formed stars heat the dust and cause it to radiate.
Glowing dust cavities are the result of overlapping shells/bubbles where stars inject energy.
MIRI detects polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: organic molecules rich in carbon.
The the network of dust fibers shows a huge variety of functions across the galaxies.
The JWST views give us indirect glimpses into the earliest stages of stellar life cycles.
Mostly, Silent Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals and no more than 200 words.