Home   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Extraordinary first images from James Webb Space Telescope discussed at Institute of Astronomy event in Cambridge



More news, no ads

LEARN MORE


The first stunning images from the James Webb Space Telescope were discussed at a sold-out public event at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge.

What looks much like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals previously obscured areas of star birth. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI
What looks much like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals previously obscured areas of star birth. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

The extraordinary telescope will be the premier observatory for the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide as they study every phase of our universe, from the first glows after the Big Bang to the formation of solar systems, and the evolution of our own.

The University of Cambridge was selected as an official host for the grand unveiling on Tuesday by the European Space Agency (ESA), and its Institute of Astronomy hosted an event to discuss, with talks from Cambridge astronomers who will be using the JWST to uncover secrets about our universe.

Nikku Madhusudhan, professor of astrophysics and exoplanetary science at the Institute of Astronomy, giving his presentation on the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope. Picture: Keith Heppell
Nikku Madhusudhan, professor of astrophysics and exoplanetary science at the Institute of Astronomy, giving his presentation on the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope. Picture: Keith Heppell

Billed as the world’s greatest time machine, as it helps us to peer further back than ever before, JWST cost $10billion and involved NASA, the ESA and Canadian Space Agency.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has revealed details of the Southern Ring planetary nebula that were previously hidden from astronomers. Planetary nebulae are the shells of gas and dust ejected from dying stars. The dimmer star at the centre of this scene has been sending out rings of gas and dust for thousands of years in all directions, and the image has revealed for the first time that this star is cloaked in dust. Two cameras aboard Webb captured the latest image of this planetary nebula, NGC 3132, and known informally as the Southern Ring Nebula. It is approximately 2,500 light-years away. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has revealed details of the Southern Ring planetary nebula that were previously hidden from astronomers. Planetary nebulae are the shells of gas and dust ejected from dying stars. The dimmer star at the centre of this scene has been sending out rings of gas and dust for thousands of years in all directions, and the image has revealed for the first time that this star is cloaked in dust. Two cameras aboard Webb captured the latest image of this planetary nebula, NGC 3132, and known informally as the Southern Ring Nebula. It is approximately 2,500 light-years away. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

The Kavli Institute for Cosmology in Cambridge (KICC) was heavily involved in the primary spectrograph for Webb, called NIRSpec. This is the first multi-object spectrograph in space and orders of magnitude more sensitive than any previous facilities.

[Read more: James Webb Space Telescope carries Cambridge technology into orbit to help unlock secrets of early universe]

Thousands of galaxies flood this near-infrared image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723. High-resolution imaging from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope combined with a natural effect known as gravitational lensing made this finely detailed image possible. First, focus on the galaxies responsible for the lensing: the bright white elliptical galaxy at the centre of the image and smaller white galaxies throughout the image. Bound together by gravity in a galaxy cluster, they are bending the light from galaxies that appear in the vast distances behind them. The combined mass of the galaxies and dark matter act as a cosmic telescope, creating magnified, contorted, and sometimes mirrored images of individual galaxies. Clear examples of mirroring are found in the prominent orange arcs to the left and right of the brightest cluster galaxy. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI
Thousands of galaxies flood this near-infrared image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723. High-resolution imaging from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope combined with a natural effect known as gravitational lensing made this finely detailed image possible. First, focus on the galaxies responsible for the lensing: the bright white elliptical galaxy at the centre of the image and smaller white galaxies throughout the image. Bound together by gravity in a galaxy cluster, they are bending the light from galaxies that appear in the vast distances behind them. The combined mass of the galaxies and dark matter act as a cosmic telescope, creating magnified, contorted, and sometimes mirrored images of individual galaxies. Clear examples of mirroring are found in the prominent orange arcs to the left and right of the brightest cluster galaxy. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

“Today, we present humanity with a groundbreaking new view of the cosmos from the James Webb Space Telescope – a view the world has never seen before,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson, as the images were revealed.

An enormous mosaic of Stephan's Quintet is the largest image to date from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, covering about one-fifth of the Moon's diameter. It contains over 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI
An enormous mosaic of Stephan's Quintet is the largest image to date from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, covering about one-fifth of the Moon's diameter. It contains over 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

“These images, including the deepest infrared view of our universe that has ever been taken, show us how Webb will help to uncover the answers to questions we don’t even yet know to ask.”

Galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is a technicolour landscape when viewed in mid-infrared light by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. Compared to Webb's near-infrared image, right, the galaxies and stars are awash in new colours. Start by comparing the largest bright blue star. At right, it has very long diffraction spikes, but in mid-infrared at left, its smaller points appear more like a snowflakes. Find more stars by looking for these telltale if tiny sikes. Stars also appear yellow, sometimes with green diffraction spikes. If an object is blue and lacks spikes, it's a galaxy. These galaxies contain stars, but very little dust. This means that their stars are older as there is less gas and dust available to condense to form new stars. It also means their stars are ageing. The red objects in this field are enshrouded in thick layers of dust, and may very well be distant galaxies. Some may be stars, but research is needed to fully identify each object in the mid-infrared image. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI
Galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is a technicolour landscape when viewed in mid-infrared light by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. Compared to Webb's near-infrared image, right, the galaxies and stars are awash in new colours. Start by comparing the largest bright blue star. At right, it has very long diffraction spikes, but in mid-infrared at left, its smaller points appear more like a snowflakes. Find more stars by looking for these telltale if tiny sikes. Stars also appear yellow, sometimes with green diffraction spikes. If an object is blue and lacks spikes, it's a galaxy. These galaxies contain stars, but very little dust. This means that their stars are older as there is less gas and dust available to condense to form new stars. It also means their stars are ageing. The red objects in this field are enshrouded in thick layers of dust, and may very well be distant galaxies. Some may be stars, but research is needed to fully identify each object in the mid-infrared image. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI
Nikku Madhusudhan, professor of astrophysics and exoplanetary science at the Institute of Astronomy, giving his presentation on the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope. Picture: Keith Heppell
Nikku Madhusudhan, professor of astrophysics and exoplanetary science at the Institute of Astronomy, giving his presentation on the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope. Picture: Keith Heppell

Among the abilities of the new telescope is that it has the power to characterise the atmospheres of exoplanets, including those of potentially habitable planets, in exquisite detail.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More