NASA has provided a tantalizing teaser photo ahead of next week’s much-anticipated release of the first images from deep space from the James Webb Telescope, an instrument so powerful it can trace the origins of the universe.
The $10 billion observatory – launched in December last year and now orbiting the Sun a million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth – can look where no telescope has seen before thanks to its huge primary mirror and instruments that focus on infrared, allowing it to look through dust and gas.
The first fully formed images are due to be released on July 12, but NASA provided an engineering test photo on Wednesday – the result of 72 exposures over 32 hours that shows an array of distant stars and galaxies.
The image has “rough-edge” qualities, NASA said in a statement, but remains “among the deepest images of the universe ever taken” and offers a “tantalizing glimpse” of what will be revealed in the future. weeks, months and years.
“When this image was taken, I was thrilled to clearly see all the detailed structure of these faint galaxies,” said Neil Rowlands, program scientist for Webb’s Fine Guidance Sensor at Honeywell Aerospace.
Jane Rigby, Webb’s operations scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said “the faint spots in this image are exactly the kinds of faint galaxies Webb will study in his first year of science operations.” .
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said last week that Webb was able to look further into the cosmos than any telescope before him.
“It will explore solar system objects and the atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, giving us clues as to whether potentially their atmospheres are similar to ours,” he said.
“It may answer some questions we have: Where did we come from? What more is there? Who are we? And of course it will answer some questions we don’t even know what are the questions.”
Webb’s infrared abilities allow him to travel back in time to the Big Bang, which happened 13.8 billion years ago.
Because the Universe is expanding, the light from the first stars changes from the ultraviolet and visible wavelengths in which it was emitted to longer infrared wavelengths, which Webb is equipped to detect at unprecedented resolution. .
Currently, the earliest cosmological observations date back less than 330 million years to the Big Bang, but with Webb’s abilities, astronomers believe they could easily break the record.
Webb Telescope: NASA will reveal the deepest image ever taken of the universe
© 2022 AFP
Quote: NASA publishes James Webb Telescope teaser image (2022, July 7) retrieved July 8, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-07-nasa-james-webb-telescope-teaser. html
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