US President Joe Biden unveiled a cosmic image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope at the White House Monday night, a surprise last-minute revelation ahead of NASA’s highly anticipated July 12 release of Webb’s first full-color images. It’s a taste of what’s to come from a telescope that will peer deep into space to observe some of the first stars and galaxies to form.
The space observatory, which will orbit Earth at a distance of about 1 million miles, will also see through dense clouds of cosmic dust and make groundbreaking discoveries about the composition of planets outside our solar system (exoplanets).
At the unveiling she attended with President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris stated, “The James Webb Space Telescope allows us to look deeper into space than ever before, with stunning clarity.”
The first image shows galaxies in the depths of space. The light from these galaxies has traveled for billions of years, according to NASA administrator Bill Nelson. You observe the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared about 4.6 billion years ago. Beyond that, however, are more ancient galaxies.
“This is the most detailed and sharpest infrared image of the distant Universe ever captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. This image of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, also known as Webb’s First Deep Field, is rich in detail “NASA has released a statement explaining. “Thousands of galaxies, including the faintest infrared objects ever observed, are in field of view for the first time van Webb. This part of the vast universe encompasses a patch of sky about the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by a person on the ground.”
More images will be available on July 12. “These images will remind the world that America is capable of great things,” said Vice President Joe Biden.
It’s here – the universe’s deepest, sharpest infrared image yet: Webb’s First Deep Field.
Preview viewed by @POTUS on July 11, it shows galaxies that were once invisible to us. The full set of @NASAWebbThe first full-color images and data will be revealed on July 12: https://t.co/63zxpNDi4I pic.twitter.com/zAr7YoFZ8C
— NASA (@NASA) July 11, 2022
The deep space observatory
The Webb telescope – a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency – is designed to make discoveries that have never been made before. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and astrophysicist, recently stated at a news conference, “With this telescope, it’s almost impossible not to break records.”
How Webb will deliver unprecedented performance:
large mirror, which catches light, is over 21 feet in diameter. This is more than 2.5 times the size of the mirror of the Hubble Space Telescope. Webb can observe more distant, ancient objects by collecting more light. A few hundred million years after the Big Bang, the telescope will explore galaxies and stars that formed more than 13 billion years ago.
Last year, Jean Creighton, an astronomer and the director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, told Mashable, “We’re going to see the very first stars and galaxies to ever form.”
Infrared vision: Unlike Hubble, which primarily observes visible light, Webb is primarily an infrared telescope, meaning it observes infrared light. This broadens our view of the universe enormously. Infrared has longer wavelengths than visible light, allowing the light waves to pass through cosmic clouds more efficiently; they don’t collide with and get scattered by these dense clouds very often. Ultimately, Webb’s infrared vision can see places that Hubble can’t.
“It lifts the veil,” Creighton declared.
Peering into distant exoplanets: The Webb telescope is equipped with spectrometers that will revolutionize our understanding of distant exoplanets, allowing them to see into these worlds. The instruments can determine which molecules (such as water, carbon dioxide and methane) are present in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets, whether they are gas giants or smaller rock planets. Webb will investigate extrasolar planets in the Milky Way galaxy. Who knows what we can discover?
Mercedes López-Morales, an exoplanet researcher and astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics-Harvard & Smithsonian, told Mashable in 2021, “We can learn things we never imagined.”
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