(ORDO NEWS) — NASA has released a teasing teaser photo ahead of the long-awaited release next week of the first images of deep space taken by the James Webb Telescope, an instrument so powerful it can peer into the origins of the universe.
The $10 billion observatory, launched last December and now orbiting the sun at a distance of a million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth, can see where no other telescope has ever looked thanks to its huge primary mirror and instruments. , which focus in the infrared, allowing you to see through dust and gas.
The first fully formed images are scheduled to be released on July 12, but on Wednesday NASA released a test engineering photo of 72 exposures over 32 hours, showing a collection of distant stars and galaxies.
NASA said in a statement that the image has some “jagged edges” but is still “one of the deepest images of the universe ever taken” and offers a “teasing look” at what will be revealed in the coming weeks, months and years. .
When this image was taken, I was in awe of how clearly all of the detailed structure of these faint galaxies was visible,” said Neil Rowlands, Webb Precision Guidance Sensor Program Scientist at Honeywell Aerospace.
Jane Rigby, Webb operations scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said “the faintest spots in this image are exactly the types of faint galaxies that Webb will be studying in its first year of science.”
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said last week that Webb is capable of seeing farther into space than any telescope before it.
“It will examine solar system objects and the atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, giving us clues about whether their atmospheres are similar to our own,” he said.
“It might answer some of the questions we have: Where did we come from? What else is out there? Who are we? And of course it will answer some questions we don’t even know we have.”
Webb’s infrared capabilities allow it to look into the past, all the way back to the Big Bang, which happened 13.8 billion years ago.
As the universe expands, light from the earliest stars shifts from the ultraviolet and visible wavelengths in which it was emitted to longer infrared wavelengths, which Webb is able to detect with unprecedented resolution.
Currently, the earliest cosmological observations date back 330 million years from the Big Bang, but thanks to Webb’s capabilities, astronomers believe they can easily break this record.
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