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10 Times This Year the Webb Telescope Blew Astronomers Away With Stunning New Images of Our Universe

What looks much like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals previously obscured areas of star birth. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

It is no exaggeration to say the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) represents a new era for modern astronomy.

Launched on December 25 last year and fully operational since July, the telescope offers glimpses of the universe that were inaccessible to us before. Like the Hubble Space TelescopeThe Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as Hubble or HST) is one of NASA's Great Observatories and was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990. It is one of the largest and most versatile space telescopes in use and features a 2.4-meter mirror and four main instruments that observe in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It was named after astronomer Edwin Hubble.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Hubble Space Telescope, the JWST is in space, so it can take pictures with stunning detail free from the distortions of Earth’s atmosphere.

However, while Hubble is in orbit around Earth at an altitude of 335 miles (540 km), the JWST is 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) distant, far beyond the Moon. From this position, away from the interference of our planet’s reflected heat, it can collect light from across the universe far into the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

This ability, when combined with the JWST’s larger mirror, state-of-the-art detectors, and many other technological advances, allows astronomers to look back to the universe’s earliest epochs.

As the universe expands, it stretches the wavelength of light traveling toward us, making more distant objects appear redder. At great enough distances, the light from a galaxy is shifted entirely out of the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum to the infrared. The JWST is able to probe such sources of light right back to the earliest times, nearly 14 billion years ago.

The Hubble telescope continues to be a great scientific instrument and can see at optical wavelengths where the JWST cannot. But the Webb telescope can see much further into the infrared with greater sensitivity and sharpness.

Let’s have a look at ten images that have demonstrated the staggering power of this new window to the universe.

1. Mirror alignment complete

Source: SciTechDaily