NASA is showing more of the first display from the James Webb Space Telescope today. This is the largest and most powerful orbital observatory ever launched. Yesterday, the public got a sneak peek at an image from deep space that was full of galaxies.
It also looks like there might be clouds on other planets. The NASA Webb Telescope saw that the huge gas planet WASP 96-b, which orbits a star 1,150 light-years away, has water. NASA tweeted that they had found clouds on this exoplanet for the first time.
NASA shared more photos and said, “Some stars leave in a big way. The NASA Webb Telescope took these pictures of the Southern Ring planetary nebula. It is made up of layers of light and dust that hide a dying star.”
Also, NASA released photos of a group of galaxies that showed “huge shockwaves and tidal tails.”
NASA chose the first batch of full-color, high-resolution images that took weeks to make from raw telescope data because they were interesting early photos from Webb’s main research areas and gave a sneak peek at upcoming science missions. The $9 billion infrared telescope that Northrop Grumman Corp. built for NASA is expected to change astronomy by letting scientists see farther and clearer into the cosmos than ever before, all the way back to the beginning of the known universe.
The four more pictures that were made public on Tuesday showed more of the beauty of space. With one exception, the most recent pictures showed parts of the universe that other telescopes could also see. But Webb’s huge power, its distance from Earth, and the way it used the infrared light spectrum showed them in a new way. AP reported on Tuesday that NASA Administrator Bill Nelson was very excited about photos that showed “stars being born and black holes eating them.” “Every picture is a new find, and it will show people a side of people they’ve never seen before.”
Webb’s use of the infrared light spectrum lets the telescope “see light from far away, from the corners of the cosmos,” he said. This lets the telescope see through the cosmic dust. Josef Aschbacher, the head of the European Space Agency, says, “We have completely changed how we think about the universe.”
The Webb was launched on Christmas Day, 2021, as a joint mission of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. It took about a month for it to reach solar orbit, which is about 1 million miles from Earth. According to Reuters, it took the telescope months to set up all of its parts, which included a solar cover the size of a tennis court, align its mirrors, and calibrate its equipment after it got there.
Astronomers will start a list of science projects chosen through a competition to study the evolution of galaxies, the life cycles of stars, the atmospheres of faraway exoplanets, and the moons of our solar system’s outer reaches.