NASA has provided a teaser image ahead of the release of next week's much-anticipated first images from deep space from the James Webb Telescope, an instrument so powerful that it can trace the origins of the universe pillar.
The $10 billion observatories were commissioned last December and are currently orbiting the Sun one million miles (1.5 million km) from Earth, visible where no telescope has ever been—previously seen thanks to its giant main mirror and infrared-focused instruments, allowing it to see through dust and gas.
The first complete images are expected to be released on July 12, but NASA provided a technical test photo on Wednesday, the results of 72 exposures over 32 hours showing a series of distant stars and galaxies.
NASA says the image is of "raw" quality, but it is still "one of the most in-depth images of the universe ever taken" and provides a "fascinating glimpse" of what will be revealed in the future. weeks, months, and years to come.
Neil Rowlands, Webb's Fine Guidance Sensor program scientist at Honeywell Aerospace, said “When this image was taken, I was delighted to see clearly all the detailed structures of these faint galaxies.”
"The faint spots in this image are exactly the kind of faint galaxies that Webb will be studying during his first year in science," said Jane Rigby, Webb's operations scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson last week said Webb can see further into the universe than any telescope before him. "It will explore objects in the solar system and the atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, giving us clues as to whether their atmospheres are similar to our own," he said.
"It might answer some of the questions we ask ourselves: Where do we come from? What else? Who are we? And of course, that will answer some questions we don't even know what that question is. "
Webb's infrared abilities allowed him to travel back to the Big Bang, which occurred 13.8 billion years ago. Because the Universe was expanding, the light from the first stars changed from the ultraviolet and visible wavelengths it emitted to the longer infrared wavelengths that Webb was equipped to detect at unprecedented resolution.
Currently, the earliest cosmic observations date back to less than 330 million years before the Big Bang, but given Webb's ability, astronomers believe they could easily break all previous records.
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