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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.
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)
The Carina Nebula or Eta Carinae Nebula (catalogued as NGC 3372; also known as the Great Carina Nebula) 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 3132 (also known as the Eight-Shard Nebula, the southern ring nebula, 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’s Quintet is a visual grouping of five galaxies, four of which form the first group of compact galaxies ever discovered. The group, visible in the constellation Pegasus, was discovered by Édouard Stephan in 1877 at the Marseille Observatory. The group is the most studied of all groups of compact galaxies. 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 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.