Weather Blog | NASA Reveals First Full Images From James Webb Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope Dazzles with High Resolution Images of The Cosmos
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 2:41 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2022 at 4:10 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s been a long journey for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) after 20+ years of design, construction, and testing we’re getting a look at the first images of distant galaxies, stars, and nebulas! Below are the 5 images and data released by NASA earlier today. Be sure to continue to scroll past the photos for more information about the James Webb Telescope.

Deep Field View:

This is the sharpest infrared image of distant galaxies that have ever been captured! Webb took this image using two onboard infrared cameras, a Near-Infrared Camera and a Mid-Infrared Instrument. The image is a composite made from different wavelengths and took about 12.5 hours to complete. This is lightning fast compared to the Hubble Space Telescope which took weeks for similar pictures. This picture is centered around the SMACS 0723 galaxy cluster, the area of white galaxies in the center of the picture. Now because of how far away these galaxies are from Webb the image that we get back is actually how the galaxy cluster appeared about 4.6 billion years ago! If you zoom in on this picture there are hundreds of galaxies in the background, galaxies that are even farther away, one galaxy has light that traveled 13.1 billion years to reach us. This means that the distant galaxy formed about 600 million years after the Big Bang, making it one of the oldest galaxies we’ve ever observed! You can find more information about the image and the equipment used to take it on NASA’s website, just click HERE!

James Webb Space Telescope
James Webb Space Telescope(Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach | NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

Atmospheric Composition:

In addition to capturing images, the JWST also obtained data from a far away exoplanet. Webb’s powerful instruments detected the planet moving in front of its orbiting star and was able to analyze its atmosphere, detecting signs of water and evidence of clouds and haze. The exoplanet, WASP-96b, is about 1,150 lights years away in the constellation Phoenix in the southern sky. Using a Near-Infrared Imager and Slitess Spectrograph (NIRISS) Webb measured the light coming from WASP-96b’s Star, as the planet moved in front of the start the about of light decreased and as it moved away the light increased again. This is known as a light curve

Exoplanet WASP-96 b (NIRISS Transit Light Curve)
Exoplanet WASP-96 b (NIRISS Transit Light Curve)(NASA)

and is nothing new, scientists have been using this method to detect planets for years, what makes this different is the technology onboard Webb gives scientists access to a lot more data and can help with detecting things like water and molecules like oxygen, methane, and carbon dioxide. While this isn’t the first time water was been detected this way, the first being Hubble in 2013, the James Webb telescope has upped the bar for the level of detail, amount of data, and speed at which all of that information comes back to Earth. To learn more about the image below click HERE.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured the distinct signature of water, along with...
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured the distinct signature of water, along with evidence for clouds and haze, in the atmosphere surrounding a hot, puffy gas giant planet orbiting a distant Sun-like star.(NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI)

Southern Ring Nebula:

Two cameras onboard the JWST were able to capture incredible images of the Southern Ring Nebula. It’s located about 2,500 light-years away from Earth and while scientists have been studying this nebula for years Webb has now made it possible to show the Southern Ring in a higher quality. Things like dust can now be removed to see things that haven’t been visible on telescopes like Hubble. The image on the left was taken using Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera and highlights the star at the center of the nebula and the layers of dust expanding outwards. The image on the right was taken using Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument and can remove layers of dust revealing for the FIRST TIME a second star! Each star is in a different stage of life, the brighter star being younger and the dimmer star older. Eventually, the younger star will eject its own nebula but for now, the pair will continue to influence the brilliant colors of dust and gas and cause them to form incredible patterns. You can find more information about the Southern Ring Nebula HERE.

This side-by-side comparison shows observations of the Southern Ring Nebula in near-infrared...
This side-by-side comparison shows observations of the Southern Ring Nebula in near-infrared light, at left, and mid-infrared light, at right, from NASA’s Webb Telescope.(Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach | NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI)

Stephan’s Quintet:

Stephan’s Quintet is a long-studied group of galaxies and was even featured in the holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Originally discovered in 1877 by French astronomer Edouard Stephan, Stephan’s Quintet is made up of 5 distant galaxies, one of which is about 40 million light-years away, and the other 4 that are about 290 million light-years from Earth. Today Webb has brought Stephan’s Quintet into a new light with this incredible image which is actually made up of 1,000 separate images that have been pieced together. Using its state-of-the-art infrared cameras and instruments Webb can show in detail how interacting galaxies can trigger new stars to be born and how the gasses of each galaxy can be affected out of its normal pattern. One of the primary missions for Webb will be to better understand the lifecycle of a galaxy, and how they are born and evolve. With more data available in the high-resolution images scientists will be able to look deeper into the clouds of dust and gas, analyze previously unseen stars, and study black holes and supermassive black holes at the center of some galaxies. You can read more information about Stephan’s Quintet HERE.

In Webb’s image of Stephan’s Quintet, we see 5 galaxies, 4 of which interact.
In Webb’s image of Stephan’s Quintet, we see 5 galaxies, 4 of which interact.(NASA)

Carina Nebula:

Last but certainly not least is the Carina Nebula! This spectacular nebula of dust and gas is the birthplace of thousands of stars, it was originally discovered in 1826 by James Dunlop. It’s visible in the southern hemisphere in the constellation Carina. Photographed in the past by the Hubble Space Telescope the Carina Nebula has caused wonder and awe for years but the latest image taken by Webb will blow your mind! The level of detail in this image is incredible, you have to compare the Hubble image with Webb to really get a good understanding of how much detail is now visible! Webb has revealed areas of the nebula where stars are born, individual stars that were never seen before, some of which have jets of energy spewing into space. Webb’s highly sensitive instruments have been able to capture stars in their earlier stages and has been able to “look through” the dust revealing images of cosmic cliffs with a landscape of high “mountains and valleys”. In reality, these mountains and valleys are areas of hot ionized gas, the detail in the large walls and pillars come from the radiation from nearby stars eroding the dust away. In some places, the nebula reaches heights that are 7 light-years tall! The nebula itself is located about 7,600 light-years from Earth and was captured using Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera and a Mid-Infrared Instrument, you can learn more about the Carina Nebula HERE. Be sure to check out the comparison of the Hubble image and the new Webb image of the Nebula below.

James Webb's New Image of Carina Nebula
James Webb's New Image of Carina Nebula(NASA)
Hubble Image of Carina Nebula.
Hubble Image of Carina Nebula.(NASA)

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