The first image released from NASA’s $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope “offers the deepest look of the cosmos ever captured,” according to The Associated Press.
The image was unveiled at the White House on Monday by President Joe Biden and NASA officials. Four more images — a “full series of Webb’s first full-color images and data, known as spectra,” according to NASA — are expected to be released Tuesday.
“NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has produced the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date,” NASA reported.
What does the James Webb Space Telescope image show?
- The image, called “Deep Field: SMACS 0723,” shows “thousands of galaxies — including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared,” according to NASA.
- “What appears to be tiny specks in space are actually galaxies — billions of years old,” according to NPR.
- “We’re looking back more than 13 billion years,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson explained during the event at the White House, according to the Washington Post. “Light travels at 186,000 miles per second, and that light that you are seeing from one of those little specks, has been traveling for over 13 billion years.”
- The image captures just a tiny portion of the universe. “If you held a grain of sand on the tip of your finger at arms length, that is the part of the universe you are seeing — just one little speck of the universe,” Nelson said, according to NPR.
- Washington Post science writer Joel Achenbach described it as “a hornet’s nest of brilliant but enigmatic objects in many colors. A smattering of stars have parked themselves in the foreground, but everything else is a galaxy — a vast agglomeration of stars, rendered into a small splash of light by the immense distances involved.”
What is the James Webb Space Telescope?
- The $10 billion telescope was launched in December. It’s the more advanced and capable successor to the Hubble Telescope.
- NASA’s James Webb tracker tool — called “Where is Webb?” — offers details of the telescope’s “flight to L2 in the weeks immediately after launch, its cooldown to operating temperature, major deployment/commissioning schedule phases, its current deployment/commissioning state and status of that state, as well as providing users with a 3D model of where Webb is located in a 3D solar system.”