The clearest image to date of the early universe, going back 13 billion years, has been released – and it doesn’t disappoint. The stunning shot, released in a White House briefing by President Joe Biden, is overflowing with thousands of galaxies and features some of the faintest objects observed, colorized in blue, orange, and white tones.
The image, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful to be placed in orbit, covers a patch of the sky “roughly the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone standing on earth”, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the image captured by the telescope is the deepest image of the universe that has ever been taken.
👀 Sneak a peek at the deepest & sharpest infrared image of the early universe ever taken — all in a day’s work for the Webb telescope. (Literally, capturing it took less than a day!) This is Webb’s first image released as we begin to #UnfoldTheUniverse: https://t.co/tlougFWg8B pic.twitter.com/Y7ebmQwT7j— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) July 11, 2022
US President Joe Biden on Monday released one of the James Webb Space Telescope’s first images in a preview event at the White House in Washington. “The first image from the Webb Space Telescope represents a historic moment for science and technology. For astronomy and space exploration…And for America and all humanity,” Biden said in a tweet.
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.
This deep field, taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totaling 12.5 hours achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond the Hubble Space Telescope’s deepest fields, which took weeks.
The image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. The combined mass of this galaxy cluster acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it. Webb’s NIRCam has brought those distant galaxies into sharp focus they have tiny, faint structures that have never been seen before, including star clusters and diffuse features.
“It is the deepest image of our universe that has ever been taken,” Nelson said in a statement, adding that the rest of the high-resolution colour images will make their debut on July 12. The image release will stream live on NASA’s website, and opening remarks by NASA leadership and the Webb team will begin at 9:45 a.m.
More high-resolution images featuring the faraway planets and “stellar nurseries” where stars form will be shared on Tuesday. The new images will include the Carina Nebula, WASP-96b, the Southern Ring Nebula, and Stephan’s Quintet.
The Carina Nebula is a stellar nursery where more stars larger than our sun reside. It is more than 9,600 light-years away. The exoplanet WASP-96b and its atmosphere images will also be released. The planet is 1,150 light-years from Earth and is half the mass of Jupiter and it orbits around its sun in just 3.4 days.
The Webb space observatory was launched earlier in December last year via an Ariane 5 rocket. The space observatory is orbiting the sun at a distance of 1.6 million kilometers from the Earth from an area in space called the Lagrange point.
The primary mirror of the space telescope is over 6.5 meters wide and is made up of 18 gold-coated mirror segments. It has fuel to run for 10 years and has reserve fuel as well to power it for some more time.