Webb Space Telescope: How to See Biden and NASA Image Reveal

The largest space telescope ever built is ready to show us what it’s been observing for the past six months. But before NASA gives the world a slide show from the James Webb Space Telescope’s initial space tour, the White House will provide a brief preview Monday afternoon.

President Biden is about to release the “deep field” image captured by the observatory. Perhaps the Webb telescope’s biggest promise is to look at some of the first stars that lit up the universe after the Big Bang. While Monday’s snapshot won’t be able to do that, it is a proof of principle for the technique and a hint of what more comes from the scientific tools that astronomers have. waited decades to put it online.

The first image will be revealed by President Biden at 5pm Monday at the White House on NASA TV or the agency’s YouTube channel. The New York Times will also provide a live video feed.

On Friday, NASA released a list of five objects that Webb recorded with its instruments. But Mr. Biden will display only one of them at the White House on Monday.

The image is called SMACS 0723. It’s a patch of sky visible from the Southern Hemisphere on Earth and is often visited by Hubble and other telescopes in search of the deep past. It consists of a massive galaxy cluster about 4 billion light-years away that astronomers use as a kind of cosmic telescope. The cluster’s massive gravitational field acts as a lens, warping and magnifying the light from the galaxies behind it, which would otherwise be too dim and distant to be seen.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s deputy administrator for space science, described the image as the most poignant ever image of our universe. Later images will certainly look further back, he added.

“This image won’t hold the ‘deepest’ record for long,” said Marcia Rieke of the University of Arizona, who led the construction of one of the cameras on the Webb telescope from which the photo was taken, called NIRCam. clearly shows the power of this telescope. “

NASA will show other images at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday in a live video stream you can watch on NASA TV or YouTube. They will be demonstrated at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The paintings that make up a space exploration tour are painted in colors the human eye has never seen – invisible infrared or thermal radiation. A small team of astronomers and science outreach experts have chosen the images to showcase the new telescope’s capabilities and cause public outrage. Among the cosmic images are old friends to both amateur and professional astronomers, who can now see them in new infrared sensors.

There’s the Southern Ring Nebula, a shell of gas ejected from a dying star about 2,000 light-years ago, and the Carina Nebula, a giant vortex of gas and stars that includes several giant star systems and has the most explosive potential in the Milky Way.

Yet another familiar astronomical scene is Stephan’s Quartet, a tight galaxy cluster about 290 million light-years away in the constellation Pegasus.

The team will also release a detailed spectrum of an alien planet known as WASP-96b, a gas giant half the mass of Jupiter, orbiting a star 1,150 light-years from here every year. Once every 3 or 4 days. Such a spectrum is kind of detailed can reveal what is in the atmosphere of that world.

Going into space on Christmas Day last year was just the first step for the James Webb Space Telescope.

The spacecraft has been orbiting the second Lagrange point, or L2, about a million miles from Earth since January 24. At L2, the gravitational pull of the sun and Earth keeps Webb in motion around the sun. synchronized with the motion of the Earth.

Before getting there, the telescope pieces had to be carefully unwrapped: a sunshade that kept the instruments cold so it could accurately capture faint infrared light, 18 pieces of gold-plated hexagonal mirrors.

For astronomers, engineers and observers on Earth, deployment is a stressful time. There were 344 single failures, meaning that if any of the actions failed, the telescope would end up as a useless piece of space junk. They all worked.

The telescope’s four scientific instruments must also be turned on. In the months after the telescope arrived at L2, its operators carefully aligned 18 mirrors. In April, the Medium Infrared Instrument, or MIRI, which requires the coldest temperatures, was cooled down to minus 447 degrees Fahrenheit. Once these and other steps are taken, the science can begin.

The Webb telescope’s main mirror is 6.5 meters in diameter, compared with that of Hubble’s 2.4 meters, giving Webb about seven times more light-gathering capacity and thus the ability to see farther into the sky. past.

Another important difference is that Webb is equipped with cameras and other devices that are sensitive to infrared, or “thermal” radiation. The expansion of the universe causes light of normally visible wavelengths to be converted to longer infrared wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye.

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