Space & Astronomy
Cosmic 'question mark' shows up in James Webb Space Telescope image
By T.K. Randall
August 6, 2023 · 3 comments
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA / Joseph DePasquale (STScI)
An astronomical object resembling the curious symbol has appeared in the background of an image of the Vela Constellation.
Examples of pareidolia - which is the brain's inherent tendency to perceive meaningful shapes in abstract patterns - have often been found on the Moon or on the surface of Mars, but this is the first time we've seen one on a scale large enough to be seen far off in the depths of space.
Resembling a question mark, the unexpected extra was spotted in a breathtaking James Webb image released this week of two actively forming young stars in the Vela Constellation.
So what could possibly explain a gargantuan question mark floating in space ?
"It is probably a distant galaxy, or potentially interacting galaxies (their interactions may have caused the distorted question mark-shape)," representatives of Baltimore's Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) told Space.Com
when quizzed about the phenomenon.
"This may be the first time we've seen this particular object."
"Additional follow-up would be required to figure out what it is with any certainty. Webb is showing us many new, distant galaxies â€” so there's a lot of new science to be done!"
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