O James Webb Space Telescopethe most powerful ever placed in orbit, revealed this Monday (11) “the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the primordial universe”, being the first records of galaxies formed after the Big Bang.
The image released by NASA today shows formations that occurred around 13 billion years ago.
The photo, filled with dots of light of different sizes, has faint dots of light that have never been observed before. It is a “historic day”, celebrated the President of the United States, Joe Biden, during the presentation which took place at the Casa Blanca.
The $9 billion James Webb Observatory, the largest and most powerful space science telescope ever launched, is designed to peer into the cosmos until the dawn of the known universe, ushering in a groundbreaking era of astronomical discovery . .
On Friday (8), the space agency released a list of five chosen celestial subjects for its showcase debut for Webb. One was visualized by Biden, along with NASA chief Bill Nelson.
The Webb was built under contract by aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp. It was launched into space for NASA and its European and Canadian counterparts on Christmas Day 2021 from French Guiana, off the northeast coast of South America.
The highly anticipated release of its first images follows a six-month process of remotely deploying Webb’s various components, aligning its mirrors and calibrating instruments.
With Webb now honed and fully focused, scientists will embark on a competitive slate of missions exploring the evolution of galaxies, the life cycles of stars, the atmospheres of distant exoplanets, and the moons of our outer solar system.
Designed to see its objects primarily in the infrared spectrum, Webb is about 100 times more sensitive than its 30-year-old predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, which operates primarily in optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
The much larger light-gathering surface of Webb’s primary mirror – an array of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-coated beryllium metal – allows us to observe objects at greater distances, thus farther in time, than Hubble or any other telescope.
Webb’s five introductory targets were already known to scientists. Among them are two huge clouds of gas and dust hurled into space by stellar explosions to form incubators of new stars – the Carina Nebula and the South Ring Nebula, each thousands of miles away. light years from Earth.
The collection also includes two very different sets of galaxy clusters. One, the Stephan Quintet, was first identified in 1877 and encompasses several galaxies described by NASA as “locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters”.
The other is a much more recent discovery dubbed SMACS 0723, featuring foreground objects so massive they act like “gravitational lenses”, a visual distortion of space that greatly magnifies light coming from behind them. to expose even fainter objects farther away.
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