Joe Biden Reveals First Full-Color Images From NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

From the White House in the early evening hours on Monday, President Biden had the privilege to release the first full-color image taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope — the most powerful observatory ever launched into space. .

“Today is a historic day,” President Joe Biden told reporters Monday. “It shows what we can achieve… These images will remind the world that America can do great things.”

The new image is a brilliant snapshot of SMACS 0723, a region of the night sky containing a cluster of galaxies so large that its gravity ends up bending the light around it — magnifying and distorting it. Bright objects in the background. SMACS 0723 produces a deep-field view of distant and faint populations of stars and galaxies.

“If you hold a grain of sand at the tip of your finger about arm’s length, that’s the space you’re seeing,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson. “You’re only seeing a small part of the universe.”

Late last week, NASA announced that the first series of images will show five distant targets. In addition to SMACS 0723, the remaining four types are:

  • The Carina Nebula: An ornate and intricate interstellar cloud region about 8,500 light-years away. Like other nebulae, Carina is a stellar nursery — inhabited by infant stars (plus middle-aged stars) and supercharged spheres of gas on their way to becoming stars. It is one of the largest and brightest nebulae known to astronomers.
  • WASP-96 b: A giant planet 1,150 light-years from Earth – located outside the solar system. This gas giant has half the mass of Jupiter but orbits its host star every 3.4 days. It has a beautiful shiny look thanks to the high sodium content in its atmosphere — and greatly reduces the load.
  • Southern Ring Nebula: Also known as the “Eight-Burst” nebula, is inhabited by a dying star that bleeds gas into a cloud nearly a light-year in diameter. The Southern Ring Nebula is 2,000 light-years from Earth.
  • Stephan’s Quintet: A compact galaxy group first discovered in 1877, 290 million light-years away, with four of the five galaxies continuously circling each other in a dance of close encounters.

The new images have been made for many years. JWST, often described as the successor to the 30-year-old Hubble Space Telescope, has weathered years of delays, billions of dollars in excess costs, and naming controversy before it was inally debuted on Christmas day last year.

“We now enter a new phase of scientific discovery, building on the legacy of Hubble,” Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters Monday. “The James Webb Space Telescope allows us to see space deeper than ever before and with amazing clarity.”

The new telescope, located 1 million miles in orbit around Earth and boasting the largest mirrors ever used for a space observatory, specializes in observing the universe through infrared and near-infrared light. infrared. Because light is dilated as it travels longer distances, JWST is particularly useful when looking at some of the most distant objects in the known universe — some as far as 13.7 billion light-years away.

That means we’re effectively using our telescopes to look back to 13.7 billion years ago – the very beginning of the universe. Scientists hope to use JWST to understand what the universe looked like after the Big Bang.

“The light you’re seeing from one of those little specks has traveled for 13 billion years,” said Nelson.

The powerful telescopes will also be an important tool in other astronomical investigations — including Searching for planets that could have life.

NASA previously revealed the power of JWST in image test Pick this early year. Those photos are already pretty good, but pale in comparison to the images SMACS 0723 Biden and NASA released Monday.

It won’t stop there. NASA will release images of four other objects on Tuesday morning. And then expect a continuous stream of spatial images unlike anything we’ve seen before.

“This telescope is one of the great achievements of mankind,” Harris said.

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