US President Joe Biden on Monday released one of the James Webb Space Telescope’s first images in a preview event at the White House in Washington.
This first image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date.
Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail. Thousands of galaxies including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.
This deep field, taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totaling 12.5 hours achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond the Hubble Space Telescope’s deepest fields, which took weeks.
The image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. The combined mass of this galaxy cluster acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it. Webb’s NIRCam has brought those distant galaxies into sharp focus they have tiny, faint structures that have never been seen before, including star clusters and diffuse features.
Researchers will soon begin to learn more about the galaxies’ masses, ages, histories, and compositions, as Webb seeks the earliest galaxies in the universe.
Meanwhile, Nasa, in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), will release the James Webb Space Telescope’s first full-colour images and spectroscopic data on Tuesday during a live broadcast. The images will be released one after another by the three space agencies.
The Webb telescope lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on December 25, 2021, on its mission to unlock the secrets of the Universe. The spacecraft travelled for over a month to reach its destination nearly 15,00,000 kilometres away from home for an unhindered view of the cosmos.