Webb telescope reveals deepest infrared image of early universe

WASHINGTON: James Webb Space Telescopethe most powerful observatory in orbit, has revealed the “deepest and sharpest infrared image of the early universe” ever taken, going back 13 billion years, NASA said on Monday.
The stunning footage, revealed by President Joe Biden during a White House press conference, spans thousands of galaxies and features the faintest objects ever observed, colored from infrared to blue tones. blue, orange and white.
“This telescope is one of the great technical achievements of mankind,” he said.
Called Webb’s First Deep Field, it shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, which acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying the galaxies much farther behind it.
Webb’s NIRCam main camera – which operates in the near-infrared wavelength spectrum because light from the early universe was already dilated by the time it reached us – brought these faint background galaxies into sharp focus .
Webb compiled the composite image in 12.5 hours, far beyond what the Hubble Space Telescope could do in a few weeks.
The next set of photos will be released on Tuesday.
An international commission decided the first wave of images would include the Carina Nebula, a giant cloud of dust and gas 7,600 light-years away.
The Carina Nebula is famous for its towering pillars including the “Mystic Mountain”, a cosmic peak three light-years from the Hubble Space Telescope, by far humanity’s premier cosmic observatory. kind of captured in an iconic image.
Webb also performed a spectroscopic approach – an analysis of light that reveals detailed information – on a gas giant called WASP-96 b, discovered in 2014.
Nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth, WASP-96 b has about half the mass of Jupiter and orbits its star in just 3.4 days.
Nestor Espinoza, an STSI astronomer, told AFP that previous exoplanet spectroscopy performed with existing instruments was very limited compared to what Webb was able to do.
“It’s like being in a very dark room and you can only see through a tiny pinhole,” he said of the technology previously. Now, with Webb, “You’ve opened a big window, you can see all the little details.”
Launched in December 2021 from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, Webb is orbiting the Sun at a distance of one million miles (1.6 million km) from Earth, in a region of space known as the Lagrange point Monday.
Here, it remains in a fixed position relative to the Earth and the Sun, with the minimum amount of fuel needed to correct the path.
An engineering marvel, the total project cost is estimated at $10 billion, making it one of the most expensive science platforms ever built, rivaling the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
Webb’s main mirror is more than 21 feet (6.5 meters) wide and is made up of 18 segments of gilded mirrors. Like a camera held in the hand, the structure must remain as stable as possible to get the best photos.
Charlie Atkinson, chief engineer of the James Webb Space Telescope program at main contractor Northrop Grumman, told AFP it wobbled no more than 17 parts per million of a millimeter.
Following the first images, astronomers around the globe will be sharing telescope time, with projects selected competitively through a process in which applicants and winners choose not to know each other’s identities, to minimize bias.
Thanks to an efficient launch, NASA estimates Webb has enough propulsion for a lifespan of 20 years, as it works in conjunction with the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to answer fundamental questions about the universe.

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