President Joe Biden this Monday personally presented the first scientific image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, six months after its launch in December 2021. The device is the most powerful and most expensive in history, and it shows the universe as it was 13,000 years ago.
The James Webb Space Telescope has fulfilled its promise. On Monday, July 11, the first “deepest and most accurate infrared image of the early universe” was presented, no more, no less, by the President of the United States. It is also the first of many.
This “historic” achievement is the fruit of a collaboration between the US, European and Canadian space agencies, and is expected to revolutionize astronomy.
After six months of waiting, Joe Biden released a “deep field” photo for the Web. It’s an amazing shot, depicting a remote region of the universe called JWST, with gas clouds and thousands or tens of thousands of galaxies. Plus, it’s a look back in time: what’s perceptible is the universe 13,000 million years ago, due to the time it took for light to reach the telescope.
“JWST is a portion of the sky that fits within a grain of sand on the tip of a finger. The telescope only took a day to capture this image,” explains Simon Rose, science journalist at RFI.
It is an image that takes us shortly after the birth of the first stars in the universe and we will talk about distances of about 13,500 million light-years. This means that we delve into some of these galaxies that are so small that we can see and go back in time, to see what the original galaxies were like.
Interview with astrophysicist Josep Maria Trigo of the Institute of Space Sciences of the Supreme Council of Scientific Research in Spain and member of the Institute for Space Studies of Catalonia
Five more photos will be shown this Tuesday. Webb was able to observe various elements such as the Kill Nebula, one of the largest and in which several stars have formed. Information is also expected about Stephan’s Quintet, a compact galaxy cluster, and an exoplanet whose atmospheric composition has been studied for the first time.
“So we will be able to learn many things about this distant universe and about the birth of stars. We already know thousands of exoplanets. We will be able to study the composition of some of these atmospheres thanks to the rigor and accuracy of the instruments available in the James Webb Telescope “, details astrophysicist Josep María Trigo*.
► Read and listen also: “James Webb Space Telescope: a huge golden eye to look at the universe”
This series of images marks the end of the process of calibrating your optics and you will now enter the first cycle of scientific observation. A phase that will last for a year and will allow the analysis of hundreds of targets chosen by researchers from all over the world.
* Author of the book The Earth is in Danger, Tahrir University of Barcelona, 2022.
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