By: Reed Morris
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched on Christmas Day, 2022. At a cost of over 10 billion dollars, a project of this magnitude MUST have a worthwhile outcome. The JWST has only been operational and in position for three months, but has already surpassed expectations.
Throughout the launch process, deployment, and calibration, everything went perfectly. All 300 some single points of failure deployed without issue, and the telescope was finally up and running by July of 2022. The first set of images was released on July 12th, showing the world what NASA’s bleeding edge technology could do.
The first image released by NASA was a much more advanced and detailed version of Hubble’s deep field. The deep field is pictured below.
While this picture might seem like any other picture of space, it contains some of the most spectacular sights in our known universe. This image contains the farthest intergalactic objects humans have ever observed. It also shows many instances of gravitational lensing, where massive galaxy clusters warp space enough to bend the light from galaxies behind, to amplify and focus their light.
This deep field is fascinating in many ways. First off we have to talk about its size. While this image seems large, the area that Webb viewed to take this picture was roughly the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length. Another very interesting aspect about this deep field is the time it took to capture the image. While Hubble took weeks to capture a lesser deep field, James Webb took just hours to capture the spectacular image pictured above. With that sort of efficiency and processing power, the future of space exploration is in Webb’s pocket.
One of the most important aspects of Webb that I mentioned a lot in my previous article is its ability to peer back in time further than we’ve ever dreamed. While we currently live just around 14.5 billion years after the theoretical Big Bang, the above deep field displays light captured back to under 1 billion years after the Big Bang. Webb’s large mirror and intense infrared capabilities allows us to view the warped and stretched light that has been traveling for eons through cold empty nothing, just to be absorbed by Webb’s censor and displayed in the spectacular deep field.
As Webb continues to explore deeper into space and further back in time, keep an eye out in the news and here for further exploration into the James Webb Space Telescope’s achievements and discoveries.