Via President Joe Biden, NASA today released the first historic images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The image shows the most high-resolution image of the universe ever seen by human eyes.
Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail. Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.
Scientists have been busy aligning the telescope’s mirrors. Now that JWST is ready for operation, we can expect images of objects that are too old, distant, or faint for us to see through the Hubble Space Telescope. In fact, the James Webb Space Telescope is so powerful, it may fundamentally transform our understanding of the Universe, revealing facts about space that we have yet to even think of.
Jonathan Gardner, Webb deputy senior project scientist at NASA, explained:
“Webb can see backwards in time just after the big bang by looking for galaxies that are so far away, the light has taken many billions of years to get from those galaxies to us. Webb is bigger than Hubble so that it can see fainter galaxies that are further away.”
The following day, NASA released additional images, the first set of pictures taken by JWST including “the deepest image of our universe that has ever been taken”.
JWST has enough fuel to operate for up to 20 years.