JWST’s PEARLS: Dust Attenuation and Gravitational Lensing in the Backlit-galaxy System VV 191

William C. Keel, Rogier A. Windhorst, Rolf A. Jansen, Seth H. Cohen, Jake Summers, Benne Holwerda, Sarah T. Bradford, Clayton D. Robertson, Giovanni Ferrami, Stuart Wyithe, Haojing Yan, Christopher J. Conselice, Simon P. Driver, Aaron Robotham, Norman A. Grogin, Christopher N.A. Willmer, Anton M. Koekemoer, Brenda L. Frye, Nimish P. Hathi, Russell E. RyanNor Pirzkal, Madeline A. Marshall, Dan Coe, Jose M. Diego, Thomas J. Broadhurst, Michael J. Rutkowski, Lifan Wang, Steven P. Willner, Andreea Petric, Cheng Cheng, Adi Zitrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


We derive the spatial and wavelength behavior of dust attenuation in the multiple-armed spiral galaxy VV 191b using backlighting by the superimposed elliptical system VV 191a in a pair with an exceptionally favorable geometry for this measurement. Imaging using the James Webb Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope spans the wavelength range 0.3-4.5 μm with high angular resolution, tracing the dust in detail from 0.6-1.5 μm. Distinct dust lanes continue well beyond the bright spiral arms, and trace a complex web, with a very sharp radial cutoff near 1.7 Petrosian radii. We present attenuation profiles and coverage statistics in each band at radii 14-21 kpc. We derive the attenuation law with wavelength; the data both within and between the dust lanes clearly favor a stronger reddening behavior (R = A V /E B−V ≈ 2.0 between 0.6 and 0.9 μm, approaching unity by 1.5 μm) than found for starbursts and star-forming regions of galaxies. Power-law extinction behavior ∝λ −β gives β = 2.1 from 0.6-0.9 μm. R decreases at increasing wavelengths (R ≈ 1.1 between 0.9 and 1.5 μm), while β steepens to 2.5. Mixing regions of different column density flattens the wavelength behavior, so these results suggest a different grain population than in our vicinity. The NIRCam images reveal a lens arc and counterimage from a background galaxy at z ≈ 1, spanning 90° azimuthally at 2.″8 from the foreground elliptical-galaxy nucleus, and an additional weakly lensed galaxy. The lens model and imaging data give a mass/light ratio M/L B = 7.6 in solar units within the Einstein radius 2.0 kpc.

Original languageEnglish
Article number166
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


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