NASA has unveiled the first batch of full-color images sent back to Earth by the James Webb Space Telescope. NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency and the Space Telescope Science Institute set the initial targets to demonstrate the capabilities of the JWST. These include the Carina Nebula, the Southern Ring, SMACS 0723, WASP-96b and Stephan’s Quintet.
The first image revealed today was of the Southern Ring Nebula, located about 2,500 light-years away, by JWST’s near-infrared (NIRCam) and mid-infrared (MIRI) instrument. NASA says the telescope was able to observe gas and dust from a dying star in “unprecedented detail” — far more than what Hubble was able to do was able to record in 1998. The image on the left was taken by NIRCam.
The dying star at the center of the image has been scattering gas and dust in all directions for thousands of years, NASA says. The observatory was able to show for the first time that it is shrouded in dust. The agency notes that JWST will help researchers gain a better understanding of such planetary nebulae, which are not planets but “clouds of gas and dust expelled by dying stars.”
Next was a look at Stephan’s quintet, a group of galaxies in the constellation Pegasus, some 290 million light-years away. Four of the five galaxies collide with each other as they move, “pulling and stretching each other in a gravitational dance,” NASA said.
At more than 150 million pixels, the image of Stephan’s quintet is the largest JWST has taken to date (you can see the full details on the NASA website). The visual was assembled from around 1,000 image files. The image covers an area of the sky about one-fifth the diameter of the moon as seen from Earth.
The latest JWST image unveiled today is also amazing. It shows the Cosmic Cliffs of the Carina Nebula, some 7,600 light-years away, with stars many times larger than the Sun. JWST was able to peer through a veil of dust and gas to spot some baby stars not previously visible. The telescope gives us a rare glimpse of stars in the early stages of formation, a period of between 50,000 and 100,000 years for a single star. By the way, the highest peaks of these cliffs are about seven light-years high. That’s only 42 trillion miles or so.
Along with the images, NASA revealed spectroscopic data taken by JWST of WASP-96b to show the atmospheric composition of the gas exoplanet, which is about 1,150 light-years away. NASA says it’s the most detailed exoplanet spectrum recorded to date, and that Webb spotted “the unambiguous signature of water,” as well as evidence of haze and clouds previously thought not to exist on WASP-96b .
The first-ever full-color image from JWST, unveiled by the White House on Monday, showed a galaxy cluster, SMACS 0723, as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. The amazingly vivid image of thousands of galaxies was just an appetizer.
While these images are incredible in themselves, this is a huge moment in advancing our understanding of the universe. It marks the official start of JWST’s general scientific activities. The images show that the JWST is working as intended, which should mean that we will gain much more insight into the cosmos in the years to come. JWST is expected to operate for at least five years, although NASA believes the observatory has enough propellant to support scientific work for over a decade.
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https://www.engadget.com/nasa-james-webb-space-telescope-first-color-images-152109471.html?src=rss NASA reveals more stunning images from James Webb telescope