You might be surprised if you enlarge a spectacular new image from the James Webb Space Telescope.
There, in the distance of the amazing star birth, is a curlicue and blob of light that resembles an English question mark.
It’s unclear what the object is exactly, but it’s a long way off. Generally speaking, the more red an object looks in a field photograph, the farther it is. This is due to the fact that as the universe continues to expand at an accelerating rate, light is stretched as it moves in our direction and extends towards the redder portions of the spectrum.
The fascinating notion that the two blobs could be two distant galaxies interacting is raised by the two blobs’ apparent similarity in hue. This is a common occurrence in the universe, and the gravitational interaction can cause such galaxies to take on intriguing, elongated structures.
Even some of them resemble other things. The Antennae Galaxies resemble a bass clef that has been mirror-imaged in appearance (which also somewhat resembles the top of a question mark).
Arp 23 resembles a rose in certain ways.
Arp-Madore 2026-424 looks like a spooky skull.
Of course, they’re not those things; they’re merely appearing to be because of a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia, in which we detect patterns and significance in seemingly random configurations of objects.
Even though we don’t frequently encounter objects that are so precisely formed to resemble punctuation marks, the cosmic question mark may appear quite different up close. The two items may look like something significant to us because of the distance and perspective we have chosen.
However, if the Universe had a mascot, we would suggest the cosmic asterisk. Have there ever been any other things that so perfectly encapsulate our unending curiosity about the infinite heavens above?
You can download the full-sized image to ponder the nature of everything from the ESA Webb website.