First Images Captured by NASA’s James Webb Telescope

By Shreesha Ghosh

July 12, 2022

James Webb Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's premier space science observatory. Webb was created to solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond distant worlds around other stars, and probe mysterious structures and origins of the universe and our place in it.

Image source: Adobe Stock

Where Is Webb Now?

Webb is the largest and most powerful space telescope that was launched on December 25, 2021, on a mission to study the earliest stars and peer back farther into the universe's history than ever before. Webb is currently at its observing spot, Lagrange point 2 (L2), nearly 1 million miles (1.6 million km) away from Earth.

Image source: GIPHY

James Vs Hubble

Webb has about three times more high resolution and is about ten times more sensitive to infrared so it can do what Hubble has been doing for a long time but more quickly. Hubble is in a very close orbit around the earth, while Webb will be 1.5 million kilometres away. Tap to see Webb's first-of-its-kind photos.

Image source: Adobe Stock

Sneak Peek Into Early Universe

Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is quite detailed. Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. The telescope has produced the sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date.

Image source: NASA

A Star is Born

Webb is now uncovering hidden baby stars behind the curtain of dust and gas in these “Cosmic Cliffs”. This image looks like a mountain speckled with glittering stars but is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. It reveals previously invisible areas of star birth for the first time.

Image source: NASA

Galactic Marvel

In Webb’s image of Stephan’s Quintet, we see 5 galaxies, 4 of which interact. (The left galaxy is in the foreground!) These 5 galaxies are best known for being featured in the holiday classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This enormous mosaic is Webb’s largest image to date, covering about 1/5th of the Moon’s diameter. It contains over 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files.

Image source: NASA

Ringing It In  With The Stars

The dimmer star at the centre of this picture has been sending out rings of gas and dust for thousands of years in all directions. The Webb Telescope has revealed that this star is cloaked in dust for the first time. Two cameras aboard it captured the latest image of this planetary nebula, catalogued as NGC 3132, and known informally as the Southern Ring Nebula. It is approximately 2,500 light-years away.

Image source: NASA

Water, Water Everywhere

Webb has captured the distinct signature of water, along with evidence for clouds and haze, in the atmosphere surrounding a hot, puffy gas giant planet orbiting a distant Sun-like star. The observation, which reveals the presence of specific gas molecules based on tiny decreases in the brightness of precise colours of light, is the most detailed of its kind to date.

Image source: NASA

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