The primary official picture from the James Webb Telescope was launched at this time. It’s the deepest infrared view of the universe that we’ve ever taken, and but in accordance with NASA, the realm depicted within the shot is equal to the scale of a grain of sand held at arm’s size by an individual on Earth. We’ve excerpted a part of the picture for our characteristic above, however you possibly can view the uncropped model beneath.
That is SMACS 0723, a galaxy cluster. After digging round a bit on-line, I’ve discovered what seems to be a photograph of the identical cluster shot with the Hubble House Telescope. Look simply to the fitting and barely up from the central shiny spot and also you’ll see a distinctive-looking pair of galaxies with a little bit of smeared orange line between them. The identical formation seems in each photographs.
The second picture was final up to date in 2017, so it clearly predates the JWST. It additionally highlights how significantly better the JWST is by comparability. The James Webb House Telescope’s shot was taken by the Close to Infrared Digital camera (NIRCAM) and represents a composite of photographs captured at totally different wavelengths over a 12.5 hour publicity interval. A few of the distortion within the picture is attributable to gravitational lensing, however the uncommon six-pointed star is created by the form of the JWST’s mirrors. We’re seeing SMACS 0723 because it existed 4.8 billion years in the past, and NASA experiences that it’s seeing new particulars within the galaxy cluster that it by no means noticed earlier than, together with “star clusters and diffuse options.”
Astronomers are… effectively, “over the moon” looks like it is likely to be in poor style. Giddy, I suppose, can be the phrase. They aren’t the one ones. NASA has launched a whole lot of telescopes over the previous 40 years, however solely a handful of those have damaged by way of sufficient to be thought of family names, and most of those have since retired. Kepler was shut down in 2018 and the Spitzer IR area telescope was retired on January 30, 2020. Of NASA’s authentic 4 Nice Observatories, solely two — CHANDRA and Hubble — are nonetheless in service. Hubble stays operational for now, however the telescope is now over 30 years previous and no additional servicing missions are at present deliberate.
The JWST will not be a precise alternative for Hubble, however it is going to supply us unparalleled visibility when viewing objects too previous or too faint for Hubble to seize. Its profitable deployment marks the start of an thrilling new interval in space-based astronomy. The JWST ought to be able to observing every thing from Kuiper Belt Objects to probably characterizing the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. That final must be confirmed, however it’s on the scientific wishlist.
We’ll have extra on the JWST when NASA releases the remainder of its tranche of photographs tomorrow, at 10:30 AM EDT.