James-Webb-Space-Telescope infosette

The James Webb Space Telescope just delivered some incredible new images of the universe

Early Observations from the $10 billion Telescope have been released, Providing previously unheard-of detail on galaxies, planets, and Stars.

NASA has released the first images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), following an initial announcement by US Vice President Joe Biden.

JWST’s stunning first science image, unveiled by Biden on Monday, is a deep view into the universe showing thousands of galaxies, demonstrating the $10 billion telescope’s immense power. NASA has now released additional observations from the telescope’s first few months of operation following its launch in December 2021.

One of these observations was a detailed examination of the atmosphere of WASP-96 b, a gas giant planet 1,000 light-years from Earth. JWST was able to probe the atmosphere of this world by watching the dip in light as the planet passed in front of its host star, a technique it will use to study many more planets in the future.

“You’re seeing bumps and wiggles that indicate the presence of water vapor in the atmosphere,” Knicole Colón, an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the James Webb Space Telescope deputy project scientist for exoplanet science, said at a NASA event announcing the findings.

“These are probably the most difficult observations that JWST will make,” says Don Pollacco of Warwick University in the United Kingdom. JWST is expected to have an unrivaled capability in searching for methane and other potential signs of life in the atmospheres of planets similar in size to our own.

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Instruments aboard JWST captured these two views of the Southern Ring Nebula, which is approximately 2,500 light-years away.

JWST’s view of a dying star shedding its outer layers, known as the Southern Ring Nebula, was also revealed today. It is located approximately 2,500 light-years from Earth. The view is far more detailed than an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1998, and it reveals the two stars known to be at the heart of the nebula for the first time.

Another image (shown at the top of this story) shows an exquisite view of Stephan’s Quintet, a collection of five galaxies located about 300 million light-years from Earth. Four of these galaxies are interacting, exchanging gas and dust. JWST’s infrared view of galaxies reveals, for the first time, how those interactions drive the formation of stars within galaxies. The JWST’s optics are so powerful that individual stars can be seen inside galaxies. “It’s incredible,” said Mark McCaughrean, the European Space Agency’s senior advisor for science and exploration. “We’re ready to crank up this telescope to 11.”

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The edge of a star-forming region in the Carina Nebula, as captured by JWST.
NASA, ESA, CSA, STSCI

The Final image on Display was a New perspective on the Carina Nebula, a region of active star formation located nearly 8,000 light-years from Earth. According to Amber Straughn, an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard and deputy project scientist for the JWST, the magnificent vista revealed by JWST reveals hundreds of new stars never seen before, as well as structures in the dust and gas of the nebula that cannot yet be explained.

“We’re able to see so much more detail now,” Straughn says, thanks to JWST. “It truly reveals what’s going on here.”

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This JWST “deep field” image, replete with galaxies, was unveiled on Monday by President Biden.
NASA, ESA, CSA, AND STSCI

These images are only a taste of what is to come from JWST. The telescope’s first year of scheduled scientific observations has now begun. Countless more breathtaking vistas and vast amounts of valuable data are on their way.

President Biden stated yesterday, “It is a new window into the history of our universe.” “We’re seeing the first light to shine through that window.”

 

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