Webb is about to reveal the deepest view of the universe, and we can’t wait

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA administrator Bill Nelson said on Wednesday that the agency will release “the deepest image of our universe ever taken” on July 12, thanks to the newly commissioned James Webb Space Telescope.

“If you think about it, this is further than humanity has ever looked,” Nelson said during a press briefing at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, the operations center of the $10 billion observatory that launched last December. and is currently in orbit. The Sun is a million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth.

A marvel of engineering, Webb can see further into space than any other telescope before him, thanks to his huge primary mirror and its instrumentation. which focus on infrared, allowing him to see through dust and gas.

“He is going to explore objects in the solar system and the atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, which will give us a clue as to whether their atmospheres are potentially similar to ours,” added Nels. on while talking on the phone during isolation with COVID-19.

“This may answer some of the questions we have: Where do we come from? What else do you have? Who are we? And, of course, he will answer some questions that we don’t even know what those questions are.”

Webb’s infrared capabilities allow it to look deeper into time before the Big Bang, which happened 13.8 billion years ago. 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 that Webb can detect with unprecedented resolution.

Currently, the earliest cosmological observations date back 330 million years after the Big Bang, but astronomers believe that with Webb’s capabilities, they will easily break the record.

In addition to other good news, NASA Associate Administrator Pam Melroy said that thanks to an efficient launch by NASA partner Arianespace, the telescope can stay operational for 20 years, twice the lifespan originally envisioned.

“These 20 years will not only allow us to delve deeper into history and time, but we will delve into science because we have the opportunity to learn, grow and make new observations,” she said.

NASA also intends to share the first Webb spectroscopy of a distant planet known as an exoplanet on July 12, NASA lead scientist Thomas Zurbuchen said.

Spectroscopy is a tool for analyzing the chemical and molecular composition of distant objects, and a planet’s spectrum can help characterize its atmosphere and other properties, such as the presence of water. and what its land is like.

“From the very beginning, we will look at these worlds that keep us awake at night when we look at the starry sky, and wonder when we look is there life somewhere else?” Zurbuchen said.

Nestor Espinoza, an astronomer at STSI, told AFP that previous exoplanet spectroscopy done with existing instruments was very limited compared to what Webb could do.

“It’s like you’re in a very dark room and you only have a small hole that you can see through,” he said of modern technology. Now, with Webb, “you’ve opened a huge window, you can see all the little details.”

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