Stunning new images of the universe taken by the powerful James Webb Telescope

Southern Ring, or Nebula

New images from the James Webb Space Telescope continue to amaze astronomers.

The entry of NASA and the European Space Agency into operation revealed the best snapshots of the universe ever.

“It’s a completely new way to explore the universe, and it marks the beginning of a new era,” says astronomer Michael Thaler.

But it’s also a look back in time, as some of the new images are actually a picture of what was going on millions of years ago, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson explains.

“The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second (nearly 300,000 km per second) and that light has been traveling 13.5 billion years ago, just a few hundred million years after the beginning of the universe. That’s the threshold we’re crossing,” he explains. .

These are some new images of the universe.

Carina Nebula

Carina Nebula

Carina Nebula

The Carina Nebula, also known as the Kiel Nebula, was a classic target of the Hubble Telescope, Webb’s predecessor.

Karina is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky, located about 7,600 light-years from Earth.

Nebulae are star seedlings. They are huge clouds of gas and dust in which new stars are forming. In this Webb image, we don’t see a lot of stars, just gas and dust.

Here astronomers refer to the “cosmic reef,” a kind of demarcation between dust in the lower half and then gas in the upper half. One of Webb’s main scientific goals is to study how stars form, and Carina is a great place to do that.

Nebula “Eight Bursts”

Southern Ring, or Nebula

The Southern Ring or the “Eight Bursts” nebula, can be seen by the Hubble Telescope (right) and James Webb.

The Southern Ring, or the “Eight Bursts” nebula, is a giant ball of expanding gas and dust lit by a dying star at its center.

As stars age, they change the way they generate energy and shed their outer layers. And then when the star gets really hot again, they activate all those substances that you neglected earlier.

The southern ring is about half a light-year wide and about 2,000 light-years from Earth. This type of structure is called a “planetary nebula”, but in fact it has nothing to do with planets.

It’s a misnomer from the early days of telescopes when they didn’t have the accuracy that they have today. Just as Webb wants to see how stars are born, he also wants to see how they die.

Stephan quintet

Stephan quintet

Stephan quintet

290 million light-years away, the quintet of Stefan is located in the constellation Pegasus.

It is known to be the first compact galaxy group ever discovered. Four of the five galaxies in the pentagram are locked in a cosmic dance of frequent close encounters.

This Webb Telescope image does not look different from the Hubble Telescope version at first glance, but the infrared sensitivity of the new telescope will show different features for astronomers to study.

And that was the great hope: that Webb would work with Hubble. They have different strengths and the ability to compare and contrast will give scientists a new dimension to their studies.

On Monday, Webb already presented his first deep space image.

The first deep space image taken by the James Webb Telescope

The first deep space image taken by the James Webb Telescope

What does the James Webb telescope do?

In the image released on Monday, you can see a group of galaxies in the southern hemisphere’s constellation Volan, known by the technical name SMACS 0723.

The cluster itself is not far away, “only” about 4.6 billion light-years away.

But the sheer mass of this mass led to the diffraction and amplification of light from very distant objects. This is the effect of gravity, like the astronomical equivalent of a telescope lens.

James Webb, with his 6.5-meter wide gold mirror and ultra-sensitive infrared instruments, was able to reveal in the image the distorted shape (red arcs) of galaxies that existed only 600 million years after the Big Bang (the universe 13.8 billion years).

Drawing on James Webb

Drawing on James Webb

How does it compare with the Hubble telescope?

You may have heard of the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990.

The instrument has had a huge impact on our understanding of the universe. But scientists are very excited about the capabilities of the new James Webb Telescope and what we may learn as it merges into the depths of the universe.

“The web has revealed entire galaxies that Hubble couldn’t see, showing key details and structures that weren’t visible in the Hubble images, and giving us an amazing preview of things to come,” says STFC Webb Fellow Emma Curtis-Lake. At the University of Hertfordshire, UK.

Hubble has been staring at the sky for weeks to get these kinds of results, but Webb is able to produce rich images much more quickly.

“What Webb accomplished in 12 hours is really amazing compared to what Hubble accomplished in about 10 days,” Curtis Lake says. “A lot to come!” She is excited.

Comparison chart between Webb and Hubble

Comparison chart between Webb and Hubble

We thought this day would never come: Jonathan Amos, BBC News science correspondent

Three decades of waiting. That’s the time it took to design, build, launch and configure the most powerful space telescope ever imagined.

There were many times during those thirty years that we thought this day would never come; Pivotal times when the project was over budget so far and so behind schedule that we expected US Congress to repeal James Webb.

Thank God they stayed. The first images from the new telescope, including test images collected by engineers during the last six months of installation, were impressive.

Part of it is the incredible detail you can see in the photos, thanks to the 6.5m wide Webb primary mirror and high-resolution infrared instruments.

But the speed with which Webb can work is also amazing. It could produce data in a matter of hours, whereas Hubble would have taken weeks to do the same. I look forward to what the future will bring.

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