James Webb Telescope First Images: NASA reveals first photos

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has presented US President Joe Biden with a James Webb Telescope first images of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, 4.6 billion light-years away.

The most profound image of the early Universe

This is the first-ever full-scale scientific image taken by the James Webb telescope. It shows the cluster of galaxies as they appeared 4.6 billion years ago (in other words, it took nearly 4.6 billion years for light to reach us) and the bright stars of the Milky Way (which show rays but no rays for galaxies). A full-sized version of the image is available on the Space Infrared Observatory website. It is noted that this is the deepest and clearest infrared image of the early Universe to date. It is 13 billion years old.

The image can be seen as a massive cluster of galaxies SMACS 0723 gravitational lensing (distortion by gravity photon trajectory) of light from a distant galaxy in the early Universe. This phenomenon makes the brightness appear more robust to the observer, with some of the galaxies appearing to bend. Closer objects are not bent, but they turn and brighten the light of things behind them due to their mass. The younger galaxies in the foreground are seen as bright circles, while the older galaxies are seen as reddish arcs.

James Webb took this image using the NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera). This instrument focused the light from the galaxies stretched over the time it traveled to us. The total exposure time for the image was 12.5 hours; the Hubble, for example, would have taken weeks to form the image. This is the first image in the observatory’s first series of science data. Several more images are reported to be published on July 12.

James Webb Telescope First Images

James Webb Telescope First Images
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI – SMACS 0723
James Webb Space Telescope's first image - Carina Nebula
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI – Carina Nebula

Here you can see all the first color images of the James Webb Telescope published by NASA https://www.nasa.gov/webbfirstimages .

One and a half million kilometers from Earth

NASA developed the James Webb spacecraft in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). NASA’s new flagship observatory took 25 years to build. The orbiting infrared observatory is intended to replace the Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990. Compared with it, the James Webb telescope is 100 times more potent because of the latest technologies used in light sensitivity. The new telescope’s primary objective is to detect the light of the first stars and galaxies that formed after the Big Bang.

When is the James Webb Telescope launching?

The telescope was launched on December 25 from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana using an Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket. In mid-January 2022, the observatory reached a working halo orbit around the so-called Lagrangian point L2 in the Sun-Earth system, about 1.5 million km from Earth. This was followed by five months of optical system alignment, adjustment of the primary and secondary mirror segments, then calibration and testing of all four scientific instruments.

James Webb Telescope vs. Hubble Space Telescope

The space observatory weighs 6.2 tons. “James Webb” has a compound (of 18 hexagonal segments) that mirrors 6.5 meters in diameter with a gathering surface area of 25 square meters. For comparison, the Hubble has a mirror 2.4 meters in diameter with an acquisition surface area of 4.5 square meters.

How much does the James Webb Space Telescope cost?

The James Webb Space Telescope, a joint project of the United States, Canada, and the EU, was launched from Earth on December 25 last year. It was built over twenty years with numerous technical difficulties and over budget.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $10 billion. Uncertain term for a space telescope James Webb is 5-10 years.

It is planned that new images will be published by NASA weekly and available to the public.

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