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james webb space telescope image

The first image released today by the James Webb Space Telescope (right) of SMACS J0723.3-7327, compared to RELICS images (left) of the same region of space. | Credit: NASA

NASA today released the first scientific image from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) during a press conference with US President Joe Biden.

The image was from SMACS J0723.3-7327. What you see in the image is an area of ​​space that includes the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky about the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground. Light in this region dates back more than 13 billion years.

Watch as I explore the details in the full resolution version of the image. The detail is amazing.

How is JSWT different from Hubble?

JWST primarily sees the universe in the infrared portion of the spectrum, while Hubble primarily sees in the optical and ultraviolet wavelengths (although it does have some infrared capability). JWST is a successor to Hubble, not a replacement. It will see the universe differently from Hubble and provide scientific images that will expand our understanding of the universe.

Comparison of the Carina Nebula in visible (left) and infrared (right) light, both images by Hubble. In the infrared image, we can see more stars that were not visible before. Credit: NASA/ESA/M. Livio & Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

The JWST mirror is also 6.25 times larger than that of the Hubble telescope. This will allow him to see deeper into space and resolve images with greater detail, in addition to seeing space in infrared.


NASA has announced the set of objectives for the first science images to come from JWST. Hubble image all targets (except the exo-planet). Here is a brief overview of the expected goals from Hubble’s perspective.

Carina Nebula (also known as: NGC 3372)

Carina Nebula

The Carina Nebula, with a total diameter of over 200 light-years, is one of the most remarkable features of the southern part of the Milky Way. The diameter of the Keyhole ring structure shown here is about 7 light years. | Credit: Hubble Telescope – NASA JPL

The Carina Nebula[7] or Eta Carinae Nebula[8] (catalogued as NGC 3372; also known as the Great Carina Nebula[9]) is a large complex area of ​​bright and dark nebulosity in the constellation Carina, and it is located in the Carina-Sagittarius arm. The nebula is about 8,500 light-years (2,600 pc) from Earth. (Source: Wikipedia)

South Ring Nebula (also known as NGC 3132)

NGC 2132 Southern Ring Nebula

Images of the South Ring Nebula reveal two stars close together in nebulosity, one of magnitude 10, the other of magnitude 16. The core of the Central Planetary Nebula (PNN) or central white dwarf star is the fainter of these two stars. | Credit: NASA Hubble Telescope

NGC 3132 (also known as the Eight-Shard Nebula,[2] the southern ring nebula,[2] or Caldwell 74) is a bright and widely studied planetary nebula in the constellation Vela. Its distance from Earth is estimated at about 613 pc. or 2,000 light years. (Source: Wikipedia)

Galaxy Group: Quintet by Stephan

Stephan Quintet

Four of the five galaxies in Stephan’s Quintet form a physical association, a true group of galaxies, Hickson Compact Group 92, and will likely merge with each other. | Credit: Hubble Telescope, ESA NASA

Stephan’s Quintet is a visual grouping of five galaxies, four of which form the first group of compact galaxies ever discovered.[2] The group, visible in the constellation Pegasus, was discovered by Édouard Stephan in 1877 at the Marseille Observatory.[3] The group is the most studied of all groups of compact galaxies.[2] The brightest member of the visual cluster (and the only non-true cluster member) is NGC 7320, which has extensive H II regions, identified as red spots, where active star formation occurs. (Source: Wikipedia)

SMACS J0723.3-7327

SMACS J0723.3-7327

SMACS cluster J0723.3-7327. | Credit: This work is based on observations taken by the RELICS Treasury Program (GO 14096) with NASA/ESA HST, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under contract NASA NAS5- 26555

SMACS J0723.3-7327 is a cluster of galaxies in the southern constellation of Volan. This is an area that has not been studied extensively, and the JWST team wants to look at a part of space where there are a large number of distant galaxies to see what the JWST can produce. . This should be an exciting image to see from the JWST.

The first image of an exo-planet?

Is it possible that we see the first image of an exo-planet? JWST also takes a look at the planet WASP-96ba gas giant world about half the mass of Jupiter and located 1,150 light-years from Earth.

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