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6 surprising observations from the James Webb Space Telescope’s first month

6 surprising observations from the James Webb Space Telescope's first month
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  • In the month since the James Webb Space Telescope released its first image, it has captured a brand new view of the cosmos.
  • $10 billion space telescope Launched in December 2021 and reached its destination beyond lunar orbit in January.
  • The web is able to cut through cosmic dust, allowing astronomers to see farther into the past than ever before.

The James Webb Space Telescope Only fully operational for a month, but in that time, it has allowed astronomers to peer into the universe like never before and changed how we see the cosmos.

Often described as successors Hubble Space Telescopeweb on on December 25, 2021, after more than two decades of development. since that time, $10 billion telescope has traveled more than 1 million miles from Earth and is now in a gravitationally stable orbit, collecting infrared light. By collecting infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye, the web is able to cut through cosmic dust and see back to the first 400 million years after the Big Bang.

Since the telescope released its first batch of images in July, it has been flooding researchers with observations of distant cosmic objects. For astronomers, these images are just the beginning.

Check out some of the most stunning images shared from the telescope’s first month of observations.

Galaxies stars in the infrared jwst

The James Webb Space Telescope’s first deep-field infrared image, released on July 11, 2022.


NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI



The first glimpse of what Webb could capture was a “deep field” image—a long exposure observation of a region of the sky, allowing the telescope to capture the light of extremely faint, distant objects.

In a July 11 White House briefing, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told President Joe Biden that if you held up an arm’s length of sand, it would represent the mark of the universe you see in this image.

Because light takes time to travel, some of the light in the new image is more than 13 billion years old. This is less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang.

For this deep-field image, Webb pointed his powerful infrared camera at SMACS 0723, a large group of galaxy clusters that act as a magnifying glass for the objects behind them. The light lines are galaxies stretched by SMACS 0723’s strong gravitational pull, a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.

The image took less than a day to capture, according to POT.

One of the main goals of the new telescope is to find galaxies so far away that their light has traveled nearly the entire history of the universe to reach the web. NASA says Webb is able to see farther than other telescopes like the Hubble and discover galaxies as far back as the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

Already, astronomers have spotted what appear to be some of the most distant galaxies we’ve ever seen

Color image of CEERS-93316, a galaxy researchers believe emerged just 235 million years after the Big Bang.

Color image of CEERS-93316, a galaxy researchers believe emerged 235 million years after the Big Bang.

Sears/UOE/Sophie Jewell/Clara Pollock


In a published study Pre-Print Service Archive On July 25, researchers observed a galaxy — named CEERS-93316 — that they believe emerged 235 million years after the Big Bang, making it the oldest galaxy ever observed.

Also in July, astronomers discovered another distant swirling collection of stars, gas and dust held together by gravity. The galaxy, known as GLASS-z13, is 13.5 billion years old, 300 million years after the Big Bang.

Webb spotted GLASS-z13, a galaxy just 300 million years after the Big Bang.

Webb spotted GLASS-z13, a galaxy 300 million years after the Big Bang.

Naidu et al, p. Osh, T. True, Glass-JWST, NASA/CSA/ESA/STScI


To confirm the ages of both galaxies, the researchers will need follow-up spectroscopic observations.

In August, Webb captured a snapshot of the telescope Cartwheel Galaxy In more detail than before.

Located 500 million light-years away in the Sculptor constellation, the Cartwheel Galaxy is a rare ring galaxy that formed after a collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy, giving it the appearance of a wagon wheel. It has two rings – a bright inner ring and a colorful outer one that ripples outwards from the center of the collision.

The outer ring has been expanding from the collision center for about 440 million years. They are formed when it expands and hits the surrounding gas.

The James Webb Space Telescope captured a snapshot of the Cartwheel Galaxy, which is about 500 million light-years from Earth.

The James Webb Space Telescope captured a snapshot of the Cartwheel Galaxy, which is about 500 million light-years from Earth.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI and the Webb ERO Production Team


In the photo above, pockets of star formation appear as blue dots in a red swirl of dust. To the left of the Cartwheel Galaxy, Webb captured two other galaxies in the image above.

The Cartwheel Galaxy “was probably a normal Milky Way galaxy before the collision” and will continue to change shape and composition in the future, POT A press release on August 2 said.

The new image reveals details about the star formation and black hole at the center of the galaxy and sheds light on how the galaxy has evolved over billions of years, the space agency said.

Jupiter's black moon Europa is surrounded by yellow light in white and orange infrared colors

Jupiter and its moon Europa, left, as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam instrument


NASA, ESA, CSA, and B. Holler and J. Stansberry (STScI)



While the space telescope’s infrared vision allows astronomers to observe across astonishing cosmic distances, it can also image closer, more familiar objects. In July, NASA released a series of new web images Jupiter is showing In stunning detail

Besides being a gas giant, it has moons Europa, Thebe and Metis. Scientists believe Europa has a saltwater ocean, beneath its thick icy crust, that could harbor alien life.

Side-by-side images show the large moon Europa and Jupiter with thin planetary rings in two types of infrared light.

Jupiter, its moons and its rings captured by JWST at short infrared wavelengths (left) and long infrared wavelengths (right).

NASA, ESA, CSA, and B. Holler and J. Stansberry (STScI)


Astronomers also hope the Webb telescope will reveal whether distant worlds harbor atmospheres can support life.

“With the James Webb Space Telescope, we can explore the chemical makeup of other worlds’ atmospheres — and if they have signs that we can only explain by life,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, professor of astronomy at Cornell University and director of the Carl Sagan Institute, formerly Dr. internal.

Webb observed the spectrum of WASP-96 b, revealing that its atmosphere contains water, clouds, and fog.

Webb observed the spectrum of WASP-96 b, revealing that its atmosphere contains water, clouds, and fog.

NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI


there 70 planets Scheduled to study in the first year of the web. As part of the first batch of observations, Webb’s atmosphere contained water signatures with previously unknown evidence of clouds and fog. WASP-96b – A giant and hot gas planet orbiting a distant star similar to our Sun.

“This is an amazing time in our exploration of the cosmos,” Kaltenager said, “Are we alone? This amazing space telescope is the first tool to collect enough light for us to figure out this fundamental question.”

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