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First James Webb Telescope Images Revealed

The first images from the Webb telescope are shared.

By:  |  July 20, 2022  |    548 Words
GettyImages-1241872392 James Webb Telescope -- new star

“Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula (Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScl)

Last December, the James Webb Telescope was sent into space. Nearly seven months later, the first images captured by the most powerful space telescope are being shared with the public.

This unique machine was designed to travel far away from the Earth. It is already using its mirrors and infrared sensors to take photos of phenomena in other galaxies. Capturing breathtaking photographs, the Webb is wowing people worldwide, offering a look back into the history of our universe.

Webb Telescope’s Crystal Clear Images

The Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, and NASA were each a part of the effort – from the construction of this telescope to its launch and now its photo production.

GettyImages-1241872433 Southern Ring Nebula

Southern Ring Nebula (Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)

One of Webb’s scientists at NASA, Stefanie Milam, says that when it came to seeing the images for the first time, even she “couldn’t believe that we saw everything so clearly, and how bright they were.” She also shared, “it’s really exciting to think of the capability and opportunity that we have for observing these kinds of objects in our solar system.”

Webb’s first observations include photos and data from Jupiter, asteroids, exoplanets, stars, and even the furthest galaxies. Some of the objects have never been seen before. The telescope is planned to remain active for ten years, so these pictures are only the beginning of what the Webb will show us. One goal is to take us back to the big bang, to see “the universe turn the lights on for the first time,” according to a NASA chief scientist. How is this possible?

The Webb “can see backward in time just after the big bang by looking for galaxies that are so far away, the light has taken billions of years to get from those galaxies to ourselves,” says another NASA scientist. We are looking at the past, time traveling back to the start of our universe, through the images. These are some of the first stars and galaxies that ever formed.

New Discoveries

GettyImages-1241872517 Stephan's Quintet

Stephan’s Quintet (Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)

According to NASA, the first photos are “the deepest and sharpest images of the distant universe to date.”

Stephan’s Quintet, a group of five galaxies, was photographed to help astronomers study how galaxies interact and merge.

A planetary nebula (clouds of gas and dust produced by a dying star) was also captured. The Southern Ring Nebula occurred about 2,500 light years away from Earth.

Exoplanets were also photographed. An exoplanet is a planet beyond our own solar system. For example, WASP-96b is a gas giant that orbits its star very closely and heats to over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. It is 1,150 light years away. Astronomers and scientists had believed this exoplanet had clear skies, but images sent back from the Webb challenge this idea, showing evidence of clouds. The clouds show evidence of water in the atmosphere. WASP-96b may not be habitable or host any life forms, but this discovery shows the Webb can help us learn more about exoplanets.

Scientists hope to make new discoveries about nearby and distant planets, stars, and galaxies as the telescope sends more images.

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