Some new cosmic photographs released on Tuesday include a stellar nursery where stars are born, galaxies’ interactions, and an exoplanet’s unique glimpse from Webb Space Telescope.
After decades of anticipation, the world finally sees the first photographs captured by the James Webb Space Observatory, the most powerful space telescope ever built.
The world’s premier space observatory began construction in 2004, and after years of delays, the telescope and its giant gold mirror were launched on December 25.
The photos from Webb Space Telescope are worth the wait and will forever alter our perception of the universe.
On Monday, President Joe Biden revealed one of Webb’s first photographs, which NASA describes as “the deepest and brightest infrared image of the distant universe to date.” The remaining high-resolution color photographs will be released on Tuesday.
Several events will take place during Tuesday’s image release and stream live on NASA’s website.
The opening remarks by NASA leadership and the Webb team begin at 9:45 a.m. ET on Tuesday, followed by an image release aired at 10:30 a.m. ET. The images will be revealed one at a time, with more information provided at a press conference at 12:30 p.m. ET.
The space observatory can probe the universe’s mysteries using infrared light, undetectable to the human eye.
Webb will see into the atmospheres of exoplanets, some of which may be habitable, and unearth clues in the ongoing quest for life beyond Earth.
The telescope will also investigate every stage of cosmic history, from the first glows after the great bang that created our universe to the birth of the galaxies, stars, and planets that populate it now.
Now, the Webb telescope is ready to help us understand the universe’s origins and address fundamental issues about our existence and place in the universe, such as where we came from and whether we are alone in the universe.
The first image, released on Monday, depicts SMACS 0723, in which a large cluster of galaxy clusters acts as a magnifying glass, for the objects behind them. This process, known as gravitational lensing, resulted in Webb’s first deep field vision, which contains ancient and dim galaxies.
Some of these far-off galaxies and stellar clusters have never before been observed. The galaxy cluster is depicted as it was 4.6 billion years ago.
The image, captured by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera, comprises photographs captured at various wavelengths of light over 12.5 hours. Deep field observations are long-term observations of sky regions that can reveal faint objects.
The Carina Nebula, WASP-96b, Southern Ring Nebula, and Stephan’s Quintet are among Webb’s other vital targets for the first image release.
The Carina Nebula, located about 7,600 light-years away, is a stellar nursery where stars are born. It is one of the sky’s largest and brightest nebulae and contains several stars far more massive than our sun.
Webb’s investigation of the enormous gas planet WASP-96b will result in the first full-color spectrum of an exoplanet. The spectrum will contain various light wavelengths that could disclose new information about the planet, such as whether it has an atmosphere or not. WASP-96b was discovered in 2014 and is 1,150 light-years away from Earth, half the mass of the planet Jupiter and orbits its star once every 3.4 days.
The Southern Ring Nebula, popularly known as the “Eight-Burst,” is located 2,000 light-years from Earth. A growing cloud of gas surrounds a dead star in this enormous planetary nebula.
The view of Stephan’s Quintet from space will reveal how galaxies interact with one another. This compact galaxy group, discovered in 1787, is located in the constellation Pegasus, 290 million light-years away. According to NASA, four of the five galaxies in the group are “engaged in a cosmic dance of frequent close encounters.”
An international committee comprised of representatives from NASA, European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency, and Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore chose the targets.
According to NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, the mission, originally scheduled to last ten years, now has enough fuel to endure 20 years.
These are only the first of many photos from Webb that promise to dramatically transform our understanding of the universe over the next two decades.
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