A few days ago, NASA released a small photographic exercise of the James Webb Space Telescope. But it was just a teaser. The real surprise came today. What is it? Nothing less than the deepest picture of the universe. A look into unfathomable space time.
It is the first deep space image from the Webb Space Telescope. When was it released? The scoop was released this July 11 at a White House event. The magnitude of the event merited its presentation by the President of the United States, Joe Biden.
This first observation is among the five announced last week. It corresponds to the “deep field”, an image taken with a very long exposure time. It can thus detect the faintest objects in the distance.
Webb achieved this shot by pointing his main imager at SMACS 0723. It is a cluster of massive galaxy clusters in the foreground. They magnify and distort the light from objects behind them. What does this allow? A deep-field view of both extremely distant and faint galaxy populations. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has it right. He said it was “the deepest picture of the Universe ever taken” in the infrared. It reaches 13 billion light-years away, he said in the presentation to Biden.
NASA will release the rest of the first wave of images from the Webb telescope this Tuesday. They correspond to some important nebulae. Among them, the Carina Nebula or the South Ring Nebula. Also the compact group of galaxies called Stephan’s Quintet.
The Webb Space Telescope is an international mission led by NASA, ESA and the Canadian space agency. It was launched on Christmas Day 2021. It is ultimately positioned 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Its 6.5-meter diameter main mirror promises much more precise observations than those of its predecessor, the Hubble telescope.