Webb telescope's new images of stars, galaxies and an exoplanet revealed
This landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” speckled with glittering stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth.
Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScIImage credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI
The dimmer star at the center of this scene has been sending out rings of gas and dust for thousands of years in all directions, and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has revealed for the first time that this star is cloaked in dust.Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI
Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, is best known for being prominently featured in the holiday classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Today, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals Stephan’s Quintet in a new light. This enormous mosaic is Webb’s largest image to date, covering about one-fifth of the Moon’s diameter. It contains over 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files. The information from Webb provides new insights into how galactic interactions may have driven galaxy evolution in the early universe.Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has delivered the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe so far. Webb’s First Deep Field is galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, and it is teeming with thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared.
By Ashley Strickland, CNN
(CNN) -- A stellar nursery where stars are born, interactions between galaxies and a unique view of an exoplanet are just some of the new cosmic images that will be shared Tuesday.
After decades of waiting, it's finally time for the world to see the first images taken bythe most powerful space telescope ever -- the James Webb Space Telescope.
Development of the world's premier space observatory began in 2004, and after years of delays, the telescope and its massive gold mirror finally launched on December 25.
The images are worth the wait -- and they will forever change the way we see the universe.
President Joe Biden released one of Webb's first images on Monday, and it is "the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date," according to NASA. The rest of the high-resolution color images will make their debut on Tuesday.
There are several events taking place during Tuesday's image release, and all of them will stream live on NASA's website.
Opening remarks by NASA leadership and the Webb team are scheduled to begin Tuesday at 9:45 a.m. ET, followed by an image release broadcast that kicks off at 10:30 a.m. ET. Images will be revealed one by one, and a news conference at 12:30 p.m. ET will offer details about them.
The space observatory can investigate the mysteries of the universe by observing them through infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye.
Webb will peer into the very atmospheres of exoplanets, some of which are potentially habitable, and it could uncover clues in the ongoing search for life outside of Earth.
The telescope will also look at every phase of cosmic history, including the first glows after the big bang that created our universe and the formation of the galaxies, stars and planets that fill it today.
Now, Webb is ready to help us understand the origins of the universe and begin to answer key questions about our existence, such as where we came from and if we're alone in the cosmos.
The first images
The first image, released on Monday, shows SMACS 0723, where a massive group of galaxy clusters act as a magnifying glass for the objects behind them. Called gravitational lensing, this created Webb's first deep field view that includes incredibly old and faint galaxies.
Some of these distant galaxies and star clusters have never been seen before. The galaxy cluster is shown as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago.
The image, taken by Webb's Near-Infrared Camera, is composed of images taken at different wavelengths of light over a collective 12.5 hours. Deep field observations are lengthy observations of regions of the sky that can reveal faint objects.
Webb's other primary targets for the first image release include the Carina Nebula, WASP-96b, the Southern Ring Nebula and Stephan's Quintet.
Located 7,600 light-years away, the Carina Nebula is a stellar nursery, where stars are born. It is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky and home to many stars much more massive than our sun.
Webb's study of the giant gas planet WASP-96b will be the first full-color spectrum of an exoplanet. The spectrum will include different wavelengths of light that could reveal new information about the planet, such as whether it has an atmosphere. Discovered in 2014, WASP-96b is located 1,150 light-years from Earth. It has half the mass of Jupiter and completes an orbit around its star every 3.4 days.
The Southern Ring Nebula, also called the "Eight-Burst," is 2,000 light-years away from Earth. This large planetary nebula includes an expanding cloud of gas around a dying star.
The space telescope's view of Stephan's Quintet will reveal the way galaxies interact with one another. This compact galaxy group, first discovered in 1787, is located 290 million light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. Four of the five galaxies in the group "are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters," according to a NASA statement.
The targets were selected by an international committee, including members from NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
The mission, originally expected to last for 10 years, has enough excess fuel capability to operate for 20 years, according to NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy.
These will be just the first of many images to come from Webb over the next two decades, which promises to fundamentally alter the way we understand the cosmos.
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