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The primary official picture from the James Webb Telescope was launched right now. It is the deepest infrared view of the universe that we have ever taken, and but in response to NASA, the realm depicted within the shot is equal to the dimensions of a grain of sand held at arm’s size by an individual on Earth. We have excerpted a part of the picture for our function above, however you’ll be able to view the uncropped model under.
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 best and barely up from the central shiny spot and you will see a distinctive-looking pair of galaxies with a little bit of smeared orange line between them. The identical formation seems in each pictures.
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 pictures captured at totally different wavelengths over a 12.5 hour publicity interval. Among the distortion within the picture is brought on by 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 studies that it is seeing new particulars within the galaxy cluster that it by no means noticed earlier than, together with “star clusters and diffuse options.”
Astronomers are… nicely, “over the moon” looks like it may be in poor style. Giddy, I suppose, can be the phrase. They don’t seem to be the one ones. NASA has launched quite a lot of telescopes over the previous 40 years, however solely a handful of those have damaged by 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 just isn’t an actual alternative for Hubble, however it should 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 must be able to observing the whole lot from Kuiper Belt Objects to doubtlessly characterizing the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. That final must be confirmed, nevertheless it’s on the scientific want record.
We’ll have extra on the JWST when NASA releases the remainder of its tranche of pictures tomorrow, at 10:30 AM EDT.