Written By:


Judith Keller*

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Klaus Pontoppidan (STScI)

A new image from the James Webb Space Telescope shows the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex, the closest star-forming region to Earth.

I sat in Visio Divina contemplative practice with this image and wrote this cosmic psalm.

Happy the shimmering stars,
those who midwife new birth,
their soft golden light bathing
the unfolding universe
into song-filled spiraling being.

May there always be stars above and beneath us
to bring us near.

Happy the scientists whose ingenuity and
understanding crafted reflective shields
now mirroring their light-filled findings
to beckon our way backwards/forwards and
within/without with new stories of
becoming and belonging.

Happy is she whose path is unending,
mesmerized by Dark-light,
by a limitless Ocean of encircling womb-space,
whose Beloved imagines futures filled with wonder,
illumined by a Cosmic communion of stars.

* * * * *

This image was released by the NASA space agency on Wednesday July 26, 2023. It is yet another breathtaking snapshot of our universe taken by the James Webb Space Telescope over the twelve months since the telescope was launched.

The image is Rho Ophiuchi, the closest nursery of infant stars in our cosmic neighborhood. Located a mere three hundred ninety light years away from Earth. This cloud complex is chock full of stellar goodness. Around fifty stars with masses comparable to our sun are sprinkled white: some fully formed and shining bright, others still hidden behind dark, dense regions of interstellar dust [zoom in closer and you will find a faint galaxy or two].

Near the center of the image is a mature star called S1, its starlight illuminating the wispy yellow nebula around it. Toward the upper right are streaming jets of hydrogen, material that gets spewed out on either side of forming protostars. Black shadows near these regions are accretion disks of swirling gas and dust – some of which could be in the process of creating planetary systems.

* Judith Keller lives in Southport Australia.  Her background is in education, spirituality, and the arts. She completed a Certificate in Deeptime Leadership in 2022.  She is a cosmic contemplative allured to eco-poetic practices for dwelling in Deeptime.