NASA has a long list of intriguing targets that are next on Webb’s viewing agenda.
We have been following the travels of the James Webb Space Telescope, and it has arrived at its destination one million miles from Earth.
The last time we checked on the unit, the instrument had sent back its first images as part of the complex process of aligning its array of mirrors.
Now the telescope is fully operational, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) returned has deep field” photo capturing the faint light of uncounted suns in thousands of never-before-seen galaxies.
The image, dubbed Webb’s First Deep Field, is the deepest infrared view of the universe to date, making use of both JWST’s powerful optics and the technique of gravitational lensing to see the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it looked 4.6 billion years ago, according to a NASA statement (opens in new tab).
Webb’s First Deep Field was captured by the observatory’s Near-Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, which was the final instrument on the telescope to be approved for full science operations.
👀 Sneak a peek at the deepest & sharpest infrared image of the early universe ever taken — all in a day’s work for the Webb telescope. (Literally, capturing it took less than a day!) This is Webb’s first image released as we begin to #UnfoldTheUniverse: https://t.co/tlougFWg8B pic.twitter.com/Y7ebmQwT7j
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) July 11, 2022
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson offered some background on the shared images.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson described the image to the president, saying all the stars and galaxies it encompassed were located in an area of space the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone standing on Earth.
“We’re looking back more than 13 billion years,” he said. “That light that you are seeing has been traveling for over 13 billion years, and by the way, we’re going back farther. This is just the first image. They’re going back about thirteen-and-a-half billion years. And since we know the universe is 13.8 billion years old, we’re going back almost to the beginning.”
NASA plans to release additional “first light” images Tuesday, photos designed to showcase Webb’s ability to chart the details of stellar evolution, from starbirth to death by supernova, to study how galaxies form, merge and evolve and to probe the chemical composition of atmospheres around planets orbiting other stars.
As a reminder, the James Webb is 100 times more powerful than the iconic Hubble Space Telescope, which has already contributed spectacular images and important astronomical data. At this point, all of the ways or ‘modes’ to operate Webb’s scientific instruments have now been checked out and the instrument is ready to begin full scientific operations.
NASA has an impressive list of targets that are next on its viewing agenda.
The Carina Nebula is one of the brightest and biggest nebulae in space, located about 7,600 light-years away in the southern constellation called Carina.
Nebulae are stellar nurseries where stars are birthed and this particular one is home to many gigantic stars, including some larger than the sun.
The Southern Ring nebula, also known as the ‘Eight-Burst’ nebula, is a planetary nebula – basically an exploding cloud of gas that’s surrounded by a dying star.
According to NASA, it’s nearly half a light-year in diameter and is located about 2,000 light years away from Earth.
Next on the list is WASP-96 b, which is a giant planet outside of our solar system that’s composed mainly of gas.
This planet is located 1,150 light-years from Earth and orbits its star every 3.4 days.
WASP-96 b has about half the mass of Jupiter and was discovered in 2014.
JUST IN – First image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. pic.twitter.com/8RdH1InYe1
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) July 11, 2022
I can’t wait for the next series of images!
MORE: New image released by NASA from the James Webb Space Telescope shows a planetary nebula, known as the Southern Ring Nebula, as it is dying.
— ABC News (@ABC) July 12, 2022
✋🏼 Galactic high five!
In Webb’s image of Stephan’s Quintet, we see 5 galaxies, 4 of which interact. (The left galaxy is in the foreground!) Webb will revolutionize our knowledge of star formation & gas interactions in these galaxies: https://t.co/tlougFWg8B #UnfoldTheUniverse pic.twitter.com/b2kH1tSyMs
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) July 12, 2022
Webb's mosaic is its largest image to date, covering an area of the sky 1/5 of the Moon’s diameter (as seen from Earth). It contains more than 150 million pixels and is constructed from about 1,000 image files. Compare the new image to @NASAHubble’s 2009 view, shown here! pic.twitter.com/SbulK1GIjN
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) July 12, 2022
Data scientist Giovanna Giardino explains how the @NASAWebb image of Stephan's Quintet reveals a "a sort of cosmic dance driven by the gravitational force" — the type of interaction that drives the evolution of galaxies. https://t.co/63zxpNDi4I #UnfoldTheUniverse pic.twitter.com/n84wbD8eXl
— NASA (@NASA) July 12, 2022
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.