Top 5 NASA James Webb Space Telescope breakthroughs that will blow your mind

The year 2022 was a mesmerizing one for space exploration. Check out the top 5 discoveries by the NASA James Webb Space Telescope which awed the world.

| Updated on: Dec 31 2022, 08:02 IST
NASA reveals stunning Jupiter images captured by James Webb Space Telescope
1/6 Amazingly, currently, on Jupiter, there are auroras, storms, extreme temperatures and powerful winds stirring things up, according to NASA. The images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope could give scientists a look at the conditions of the gas giant. (NASA)
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2/6 Planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, professor emerita of the University of California, Berkeley said, “We hadn’t really expected it to be this good, to be honest. It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter together with its rings, tiny satellites, and even galaxies in one image.” (NASA)
James Webb Space Telescope
3/6 The images were captured by the telescope's Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) instrument on July 27, which highlighted the planet's unique features. According to NASA, the NIRCam has three specialized infrared filters that showcase details of the planet. (AFP)
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4/6 The image was created by compositing several images. Auroras are visible near the Northern and Southern poles of the planet. According to NASA, the auroras shine in a filter that is mapped to redder colors, which also highlights light reflected from lower clouds and upper hazes. (NASA)
5/6 The Great Red Spot as well as other clouds can be visible in the images as white since it is reflecting the sunlight. The Great Red Spot is a giant vortex which has been swirling around on Jupiter’s surface for a long time. Jupiter’s 2 moons, Amalthea and Adrastea can also be seen “photo-bombing” the planet. (REUTERS)
6/6 Thierry Fouchet, a professor at the Paris Observatory, as part of an international collaboration for Webb’s Early Release Science program said, “This one image sums up the science of our Jupiter system program, which studies the dynamics and chemistry of Jupiter itself, its rings, and its satellite system.” (NASA/AFP)
Pillars of creation
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Know all about these 5 amazing NASA James Webb Space Telescope discoveries. (AP)

The space exploration enthusiasts around the world have been brimming with excitement ever since the moment the NASA James Webb Space Telescope was first launched in 2021. And after it was placed into its orbit and began peering into space, it did not disappoint. NASA's new eyes in space captured breathtaking images of celestial bodies both known and unknown. And just after half a year of hard work, it has shown us enough glances into space that will inspire years of research in astronomy. Read on to know about the top 5 JWST discoveries that shocked the world in 2022.

Stars born in the Pillars of Creation

We all knew about the Pillars of Creation, the elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula due to the Hubble Telescope. But when the James Webb Space Telescope captured an image of it through its infrared imaging, scientists were able to spot a high number of protostars. A protostar is a very young star that is still gathering mass from its parent molecular cloud and not yet burning hydrogen. This was a big revelation as the site was previously assumed to be a site for star birth but it could never be proven earlier.

The first direct image of an exoplanet

Scientists have been able to take a few direct images of exoplanets throughout the decades, but it is an enormously difficult task. While stars illuminate, thus making capturing their image easy, exoplanets are normally seen as dip in the light of their star. However, NASA JWST was able to capture the direct image of a planet, HIP 65426 b, without a fuss. This is being considered a transformative moment as this can lead to us taking a look at more exoplanets in space.

A rare glance at a Wolf-Rayet star

The Webb telescope took a strange image of a star in July which was surrounded by a boxy ripple-like effect of concentric circles. This was a Wolf-Rayet star named WR 140. These stars are at the late stage of their life. These ring-like patterns are created due to an interaction with a companion star which has focused space dust in that shape due to the effect of gravity. To see such a star is an incredibly rare event and it has already inspired multiple studies.

Observing the most distant galaxy ever

NASA James Webb Space Telescope was also credited with discovering the farthest galaxy we have ever known in mid-December when it discovered GN-z11. No other human made telescope was able to see so far into space. Due to the light taking such a long time to reach us, it was also the oldest galaxy we have ever seen. Analysis has revealed that the image of the galaxy was taken just 350 million years after the Big Bang event.

Examining an exoplanet's atmosphere

When the Webb telescope took a look at WASP-39b in the Virgo constellation, placed around 700 lightyears away from the Earth, it was able to confirm the presence of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere. This is the first time when scientists have been able to know the gas present in an exoplanet.

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First Published Date: 31 Dec, 08:00 IST