The James Webb Telescope's First Images
An image captured by the JWT of the Carina Nebula (a place where stars are born).
Launched on December 25, 2021, the James Webb Telescope recently sent its first pictures of deep space. It can see 13.7 billion light years away (a couple hundred million years after the big bang)! However, the objects that the telescope can observe are farther away due to the Universe's expansion (see this blog for more details).
Shown above is Stephan's Quintet, a grouping of five galaxies. With the telescope's modern technologies, it can take unprecedentedly detailed images of this cluster of galaxies.
What is the telescope's purpose?:
The ancient history of the Universe has long puzzled scientists. The James Webb telescope seeks to look into deep space and observe "...the earliest stars and galaxies that formed in the Universe and to look deep into nearby stars, galaxies...and planets" (NASA). This means that the James Webb Telescope will look into distant space objects to see them as they were in the past and focus on "light in the universe, assembly of galaxies in the early universe, birth of stars and protoplanetary systems, and planets" (NASA). Hopefully, the telescope will be able to uncover more about the elusive history of the Cosmos.
Two images of the Southern Ring Nebula. This planetary nebula has a star in the middle that has been spewing gas and dust for thousands of years.
What are the future plans for the JWT?:
Now that the JWT has sent its first photos, it has proven its functionality. In the future, NASA will try to observe objects very far in deep space to learn more about the early Universe and the formation of things like galaxies and stars.
The JWT has discovered a gas planet with the distinct signature of water and evidence of clouds and haze. The planet orbits a distant, Sun-like star.
According to NASA, this last photo is the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe. This beautiful image of a galaxy cluster has an immense amount of detail.
The JWT hopes to uncover some of the well-kept secrets about the history of the Universe and the formation of early celestial bodies like stars and planets. The stunning photos of deep space that the telescope captured are only the beginning of what scientists are now beginning to be able to do.