Image of the intracluster light of the cluster SMACS-J0723.3-7327 obtained with the NIRCAM camera on board of JWST. The data have been processed by the IAC team to improve the detection of the faint light between the galaxies (black and white).

The James Webb Space Telescope peers into the ‘ghostly light’ of interstellar space

The first deep-field image of the cosmos taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has allowed scientists to study the faint, almost ghostly light of orphan stars that exist between the galaxies of galactic clusters.

Gravitationally unbound to galaxies, these stars are pulled from their homes and drift through intergalactic space by the massive tidal forces generated between cluster galaxies. The light emitted by these stellar orphans is called intracluster light, and it is so faint that it has only one percent of the brightness of the darkest sky that can be seen on Earth.

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