Stunning images from the James Webb Space Telescope show that “the curtain is lifted on a new ear of our cosmic story,” according to NASA.
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate director of the space agency’s Directorate of Science Missions, says in a blog post on Tuesday that he is “grateful and humbled” to have had a role in this historic moment.
There are quite a few times in history when we humans view nature in an entirely new way, and Webb has really started making us do just that with these new images.
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“There are quite a few times in history when we humans look at nature in a completely new way, and Webb has really started getting us to do that with these new images,” says NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen. The galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope, is pictured above
“How wonderful it is that we are alive now and are ready to gain new insight into the basis of our existence!”
Zurbuchen went on to note several traits of each photo he valued and what they meant to him.
“For example, a deep field that integrated only 6 hours has found galaxies older than 3 billion years – certainly the ‘oldest galaxy’ record is about to fall.
What’s more exciting to me is that we also have compositional spectra of these galaxies.
Modelers of star formation and stellar generations will have limitations that were previously inaccessible.
“But I always try to look at pictures in two ways – as a scientist, but also as observing nature or art as children,” Zurbuchen wrote. Two cameras aboard Webb captured the latest image of this planetary nebula, classified as NGC 3132, informally known as the Southern Ring Nebula, which is about 2,500 light-years away.
“But I always try to look at pictures in two ways – as a scientist, but also as observing nature or art as children,” Zurbuchen wrote.
A NASA official described the Southern Ring Nebula and the Carinae Nebula as “amazing.”
“Yes, it is about the story of star formation and the end of stars, but it is incredibly beautiful and amazing even without scientific explanation. Nature is beautiful, much more beautiful than we thought.
The ‘cosmic slopes’ of the Carina Nebula above are seen in a horizontally divided image by a wavy line between a nebula-forming cloudscape along the lower part and a relatively clear upper part.
Finally, I liked the spectrum of exoplanets — a Jupiter-wide planet closer to its star than Mercury — and the water signatures appear immediately with remarkably narrow error bars.
I can only imagine the charts we’ll be looking at in the full spectrum and how we’ll learn about atmospheric composition for words that may or may not hold the promise of harboring life.
Zurbuchen also mentioned the astounding reaction and intense global interest in James Webb’s first photos – as evidenced by the intense media coverage and widespread interest in social media.
A group of five galaxies appearing close together in the sky: two in the middle, one toward the top, one at the top left, and one toward the bottom seen in a mosaic or composite of near and mid-infrared data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope
There were more than 1.4 million mentions on social media of the Webb Telescope in four days and the topic was the top Google search in the United States.
The first photos of JWST appeared on the front page of 83 local and 45 international newspapers – and there were nearly 10,000 traditional media stories written around the photos, with coverage from more than 1,500 television stations.
“While writing this post, I look at the gold and platinum rings on my hands and remember that these were most likely formed from merging neutron stars,’ he says.
The remnants of stellar evolution – in my hands.
Stellar processes and explosions of all kinds created the same elements that we are made of as humans – we are made of star dust.
We’re just beginning to write this next chapter in our cosmic history books and I couldn’t be more excited to see the story the Web helps us tell.
The fact that we can look at the universe and use what we learn to change the way we think about ourselves is one of the most profound things science can do.
It gives me hope to witness the strength of humans as they achieve greater things in the face of adversity and together create the impossible.
“Thank you for joining us on this journey to explore the universe.”
James Webb’s commissioning report states that images of Jupiter above showed that JWST “can track moving targets even when there is scattered light from bright Jupiter.” It also shows its ability to capture details such as rings and moons around bright planets
James Webb Telescope
The James Webb Telescope has been described as a “time machine” that could help unlock the secrets of our universe.
The telescope will be used to look at the first galaxies born in the early universe more than 13.5 billion years ago, and observe the sources of stars, exoplanets and even the moons and planets of our solar system.
The huge telescope, which has already cost more than $7 billion (£5 billion), is considered a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
The James Webb Telescope and most of its instruments have a temperature of about 40 K – about minus 387 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 233 degrees Celsius).
It is the largest and most powerful orbiting space telescope in the world, capable of looking back 100-200 million years after the Big Bang.
The orbiting infrared observatory is designed to be about 100 times more powerful than its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA likes to think of James Webb as a successor to Hubble rather than a replacement, as the two will be working alongside each other for a while.
The Hubble Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, via the space shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It orbits the Earth at about 17,000 miles per hour (27,300 kilometers per hour) in low Earth orbit at an altitude of about 340 miles.
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