NASA Unveils First Full-Colour Images From the James Webb Space Telescope

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NASA officials gathered today to unveil first full-colour images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most powerful orbital observatory ever launched. The first batch of full-colour, high-resolution pictures, which took weeks to render from raw telescope data, were selected by NASA to provide compelling early images from Webb’s major areas of inquiry and a preview of science missions ahead.

The James Webb Telescope is expected to revolutionise astronomy by allowing scientists to peer farther than before and with greater clarity into the cosmos, to the dawn of the known universe.

NASA‘s James Webb Space Telescope has produced the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, as NASA revealed, 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.

james webb telescope first colour image SMACS 0723 nasa

Explaining the second image, the atmosphere composition of exoplanet WASP-96 b, NASA in its release said, “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… The observation, which reveals the presence of specific gas molecules based on tiny decreases in the brightness of precise colors of light, is the most detailed of its kind to date, demonstrating Webb’s unprecedented ability to analyze atmospheres hundreds of light-years away.”

“On June 21, Webb’s Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) measured light from the WASP-96 system for 6.4 hours as the planet moved across the star. The result is a light curve showing the overall dimming of starlight during the transit, and a transmission spectrum revealing the brightness change of individual wavelengths of infrared light between 0.6 and 2.8 microns… The spectrum of WASP-96 b captured by NIRISS is not only the most detailed near-infrared transmission spectrum of an exoplanet atmosphere captured to date, but it also covers a remarkably wide range of wavelengths, including visible red light and a portion of the spectrum that has not previously been accessible from other telescopes.”

main image exoplanet wasp NASA Webb Exoplanet Wasp

Explaining the image of the Southern Ring Nebula, seen above, NASA in its release said, “Some stars save the best for last. The dimmer star at the center of this scene has been sending out rings of gas and dust for thousands of years in all directions, and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has revealed for the first time that this star is cloaked in dust. Two cameras aboard Webb captured the latest image of this planetary nebula, cataloged as NGC 3132, and known informally as the Southern Ring Nebula. It is approximately 2,500 light-years away.”

It added, “Two stars, which are locked in a tight orbit, shape the local landscape. Webb’s infrared images feature new details in this complex system. The stars – and their layers of light – are prominent in the image from Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on the left, while the image from Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on the right shows for the first time that the second star is surrounded by dust.

The brighter star is in an earlier stage of its stellar evolution and will probably eject its own planetary nebula in the future. In the meantime, the brighter star influences the nebula’s appearance. As the pair continues to orbit one another, they ‘stir the pot’ of gas and dust, causing asymmetrical patterns.”

james webb stellar death s ring miri nircam sidebyside new nasa NASA Webb Nebula



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