‘Galaxy Gazing is the New Stargazing’: Cosmologists Impressed by Webb’s First Image

Cosmologists and astronomers reacted in awe on Monday after NASA released the first color image from the James Webb Space Telescope, heralding the project as a new frontier in space exploration that will allow humanity to see the early days of the universe.

President Joe Biden unveiled the infrared image during a brief White House event. Scientists hope the groundbreaking telescope – a $10 billion collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency – will document the first stars and galaxies to appear after the Big Bang, about 14 billion years ago. ‘years.

The image took the Webb Telescope less than a day to capture. (A high resolution version of the image is available here.)

The photo, which NASA says is “the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date”, shows a cluster of galaxies known as SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. The image, which features thousands of galaxies in a range of colors and swirls, is just an iota of the night sky.

“If you hold a grain of sand skyward at arm’s length, that tiny dot is the size of Webb’s view in this image,” NASA wrote on Twitter. “Imagine – galaxies galore in a speck, including light from galaxies that have traveled billions of years to us!”

Scientists said on Monday that the ‘deepest view’ title won’t last long as they put the Webb Telescope to work.

Astronomers took to Twitter to showcase the capability of the Webb Space Telescope compared to its predecessor, Hubble.

NASA will release four more images at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday during a live video feed from its Goddard Space Flight Center, a small selection meant to show off the power of the Webb Telescope and the types of images the researcher will collect over the course of of the next two decades. .

These targets will include the Carina Nebula, one of the largest and brightest in the sky, home to massive stars several times larger than the sun. NASA will also focus on the South Ring Nebula, an expanding cloud of gas surrounding a dying star, and Stephan’s Quintet, the first group of compact galaxies ever discovered.


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