As reported by NASA.
The dawn of a new era in astronomy is here as the world gets its first look at the full capabilities of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).
The full set of the telescope’s first colour images and spectroscopic data uncover a collection of cosmic features elusive until now. They are available at: www.nasa.gov/webbfirstimages
“Today, we present humanity with a ground-breaking new view of the cosmos from the James Webb Space Telescope – a view the world has never seen before,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “These images, including the deepest infrared view of our universe that has ever been taken, show us how Webb will help to uncover the answers to questions we don’t even yet know to ask; questions that will help us better understand our universe and humanity’s place within it.”
NASA explores the unknown in space for the benefit of all, and Webb’s first observations tell the story of the hidden universe through every phase of cosmic history – from neighbouring planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets, to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe.
“This is a singular and historic moment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “It took decades of drive and perseverance to get us here, and I am immensely proud of the Webb team. These first images show us how much we can accomplish when we come together behind a shared goal, to solve the cosmic mysteries that connect us all. It’s a stunning glimpse of the insights yet to come.”
Webb’s first observations were selected by a group of representatives from NASA, ESA, CSA, and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). They reveal the capabilities of all four of Webb’s state-of-the-art scientific instruments:
- SMACS 0723: Webb has delivered the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe so far – and in only 12.5 hours.
- WASP-96b (spectrum): Webb’s detailed observation of this hot, puffy planet outside our solar system reveals the clear signature of water, along with evidence of haze and clouds that previous studies of this planet did not detect.
- Southern Ring Nebula: This planetary nebula, an expanding cloud of gas that surrounds a dying star, is approximately 2,000 light years away.
- Stephan’s Quintet: Webb’s view of this compact group of galaxies, located in the constellation Pegasus, pierced through the shroud of dust surrounding the centre of one galaxy, to reveal the velocity and composition of the gas near its supermassive black hole.
- Carina Nebula: Webb’s look at the ‘Cosmic Cliffs’ in the Carina Nebula unveils the earliest, rapid phases of star formation that were previously hidden.
Read the full media release here.
Cover Photo: The Carina Nebula. Credits for all photos - NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI.