James Webb Space Telescope Looks Further

A star forming region located in the Carina Nebula, as seen by JWST's NIRCam
The “Cosmic Cliffs” of the Carina Nebula as seen by JWST’s NIRCam
Credits to NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

Infrared vision and high spatial resolution are a powerful combination that allows Webb to show never-before-seen details across the universe. Previous space telescopes could not capture the intricate backgrounds observed in Webb’s images. The Carina Nebula sits approximately 7,600 light years from Earth. Sometimes referred as the “Cosmic Cliffs,” this star-forming region is massive. The highest peaks are seven light-years tall. 

This stellar nursery is home to many massive stars, several times larger than the Sun. It is one of the largest and bright nebulae in the sky, found in the southern constellation Carina.

JWST’s observation of WASP-96b’s atmospheric composition.
Credits to NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

Discovered in 2014, WASP-96 b completes an orbit around its local star every 3.4 Earth days. The exoplanet is estimated to be half the mass of Jupiter. 

JWST captured the distinct signature of water, evidence of clouds and haze, in the atmosphere of  gas giant WASP-96 b located in a distant solar system 1,150 light years from Earth. 

The observation is the most detailed of its kind, demonstrating Webb’s ability to analyze atmospheres from incredibly far distances giving Scientists a new tool to further characterize potentially habitable planets. 

The Southern Ring nebula as seen from JWST’s NIRCam(Left) and MIRI(Right).
Credits to NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

A planetary nebula, the Southern Ring Nebula is an expanding cloud of gasses surrounding by a dying star. Approximately 2,500 light years away from Earth, the nebula is nearly a half light-year wide.

For thousands of years, the dim star at the center has released rings of gas and dust. Webb captured this nebula with both of its onboard cameras, the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). Continued, consistent imagery of these kinds of nebulae allows astronomers to dig into the specifics of what composes the nurseries: molecules, gasses, dust, etc.

Stephan’s Quintet.
Credits to NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

Found in the constellation Pegasus, Stephan’s Quintet sits around 290 million lightyears away from Earth. It was the first compact galaxy group ever discovered in 1877. Today, Webb combined 150 million pixels from nearly 1000 separate image files to create this enormous mosaic. It is Webb’s largest image created so far.

The first image from JWST, the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723.
Credits to NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

President Joe Biden revealed this first image to the public on Monday, July 11. “Webb’s First Deep Field” shows a galaxy cluster of SMACS 0723, near the constellation Volans. When revealed, it was said by NASA administrator Bill Nelson that the size of this section of the sky would be as if you held a grain of sand at arm’s length. Faint structures in extremely distant galaxies are clearly visible, offering detailed views into the early history of the universe. Not counting the stars in the foreground, characterized by their 6 spoked lens flares, each dot present is an entire galaxy, providing unparalleled information about the deepest parts of space that humans have witnessed with their eyes.

Edited by David Diebold.

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