NASA releases next wave of images from James Webb Space Telescope | Tech News

NASA releases next wave of images from James Webb Space Telescope

  • NASA on Tuesday began releasing the next wave of images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful observatory ever placed in orbit.

By:AFP
| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 13:39 IST
,James Webb Space Telescope
This image released by NASA on July 12, 2022, shows the bright star at the center of NGC 3132, while prominent when viewed by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in near-infrared light, plays a supporting role in sculpting the surrounding nebula. A second star, barely visible at lower left along one of the bright star's diffraction spikes, is the nebula's source. It has ejected at least eight layers of gas and dust over thousands of years.  (AFP)

The James Webb Space Telescope began releasing a new wave of cosmic images on Tuesday, heralding a new era of astronomy. NASA on Tuesday began releasing the images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful observatory ever placed in orbit. "This morning, folks across this planet are going to see the images captured by this telescope, and every image is a new discovery," said NASA administrator Bill Nelson. "Each will give humanity a view of the universe that we've never seen before."

On Monday, Webb revealed the clearest image to date of the early universe, going back 13 billion years. One new image on Tuesday shows water vapor in the atmosphere of a faraway gas planet. The spectroscopy -- an analysis of light that reveals detailed information -- was of planet WASP-96 b, which was discovered in 2014.

Nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth, WASP-96 b is about half the mass of Jupiter and zips around its star in just 3.4 days.

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"We've seen the effect of what happens when a planet and its atmosphere passes in front of the star, and the star light filters through the atmosphere, and you can break that down into wavelengths of light," said NASA's Knicole Colon.

"So you're actually seeing bumps and wiggles that indicate the presence of water vapor in the atmosphere of the planet."

James Webb Space Telescope
This image released by NASA taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) shows never-before-seen details of Stephan's Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies. MIRI pierced through dust-enshrouded regions to reveal huge shock waves and tidal tails, gas and stars stripped from the outer regions of the galaxies by interactions. It also unveiled hidden areas of star formation. The new information from MIRI provides invaluable insights into how galactic interactions may have driven galaxy evolution in the early universe. (AFP)
image caption
This image released by NASA taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) shows never-before-seen details of Stephan's Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies. MIRI pierced through dust-enshrouded regions to reveal huge shock waves and tidal tails, gas and stars stripped from the outer regions of the galaxies by interactions. It also unveiled hidden areas of star formation. The new information from MIRI provides invaluable insights into how galactic interactions may have driven galaxy evolution in the early universe. (AFP)

Other targets that will be released include Carina Nebula, a stellar nursery, famous for its towering pillars that include "Mystic Mountain," a three-light-year-tall cosmic pinnacle captured in an iconic image by Hubble.

One stunning shot released by the White House on Monday was overflowing with thousands of galaxies and features some of the faintest objects observed.

Known as Webb's First Deep Field, it shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, which acts as a gravitational lens, bending light from more distant galaxies behind it towards the observatory, in a cosmic magnification effect.

Launched in December 2021 from French Guiana on an Ariane 5 rocket, Webb is orbiting the Sun at a distance of a million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth, in a region of space called the second Lagrange point.

Here, it remains in a fixed position relative to the Earth and Sun, with minimal fuel required for course corrections.

A wonder of engineering, the total project cost is estimated at $10 billion, making it one of the most expensive scientific platforms ever built, comparable to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Webb's primary mirror is over 21 feet (6.5 meters) wide and is made up of 18 gold-coated mirror segments. Like a camera held in one's hand, the structure must remain as stable as possible to achieve the best shots.

After the first images, astronomers around the globe will get shares of time on the telescope, with projects selected competitively through a process in which applicants and selectors don't know each other's identities, to minimize bias.

Thanks to an efficient launch, NASA estimates Webb has enough propellant for a 20-year life, as it works in concert with the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to answer fundamental questions about the cosmos.

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First Published Date: 12 Jul, 20:50 IST
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