The James Webb Space Telescope is a new era in astronomy.
The telescope was fully operational since July and offers a glimpse of the universe that was impossible before. Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, the JWST is in space, so it can take pictures without distortion.
While Hubble is in an altitude of 540 km, the JWST is 1.5 million kilometers away. Our planet's reflected heat can interfere with the collection of light from across the universe.
Astronomers can look back at the universe's earliest epochs with the help of the large mirror, state-of-the-art detectors, and many other technological advances.
The wavelength of light traveling towards us is being stretched by the universe. The light from a galaxy is not visible to the naked eye. The earliest sources of light can be seen by the JWST.
The Hubble telescope is a great scientific instrument, it can see at optical wavelength where the JWST can't. The telescope can see a lot further into theIR.
There are ten images that show the power of this new window.
This is the first thing. The mirror alignment is done.
Once deployed in the cold and dark of space, an observatory as complex as the JWST required extensive configuration and testing.
The 18 hexagonal mirror segments needed to be aligned to within a fraction of a wavelength of light. The first image from the mirror was centered on a star. Astronomers immediately compared it to previous images of that patch of sky, with great excitement.
There are two There was a fight between Spitzer and MIri.
The image taken while all the cameras were focused clearly shows the step change in data quality that JWST brings over its predecessors.
On the left is an image from the Spitzer telescope, which is a space-based observatory with an 85 cm mirror, and on the right is an image from the MIRI camera and 6.5m mirror. The ability to detect fainter sources is on display, with hundreds of galaxies visible that were lost in the noise of the image. A big mirror in the deepest dark can do this.
There are three. The first image of a group of planets.
It was a good choice for the first color images to be released to the public.
The field is filled with many different types of objects. The light from distant sources in the background is stretched and magnified as a result of the combined mass of this huge cluster.
There are lines and arcs throughout this image. The field is already spectacular in Hubble images, but the JWST near-infrared image shows a wealth of extra detail, including hundreds of distant galaxies too faint or red to be seen by Hubble.
There are four. Stephan has a quintet.
Stephan's Quintet is a group of galaxies that have long been of interest to astronomy.
We can see the Hubble view on the left and the JWST view on the right. A zoom in on a small background galaxy is shown in the inset. We can see some bright star-forming regions in the Hubble image, but only with the full structure of this and surrounding galaxies revealed by the JWST.
There are five. The foundations of creation.
One of the most famous images in astronomy is the Pillars of Creation. The telescope's reach was demonstrated.
The backdrop to a stellar nursery teeming with new stars is depicted in this picture. The image on the right shows the ability to peer through the shroud of dust and see what is behind it.
There are six. The 'hourglass' was the first Protostar.
Another act of creation is depicted in this picture. A cloud of dust and gas surrounds a star in the process of forming.
A new star will be born if the material falling in is visible in the IR.
The gas above and below the disk is illuminated by light from the still forming star. The amount of detail is once again an enormous leap forward.
There are seven. The Jupiter is in the middle of the universe.
The most distant galaxies can be seen from the beginning of the universe, but it can also be seen at home.
Although it can't see Earth or the inner Solar System planets, it can see the more distant parts of our Solar System. We can see the structure of Jupiter's clouds and storms in this near-IR image. At the northern and southern poles, the light of the Auroras is amazing.
Due to Jupiter's fast rotation and motion across the sky, it was very difficult to achieve this image. The ability of the telescope to track difficult targets was proven to be very good.
There are eight. There is a PhantomGalaxy.
The power of JWST is shown in these images by the fact that it is a valuable complement to other great tools. We can see how starlight and gas and dust are related to one another by using the middle panel.
Hubble's optical views and other images are used to leverage this principle.
There are nine. There is a distant universe.
The small, red blob in the right image is not one of the most beautiful in our universe, but it is still fascinating.
The universe was only 350 million years old when this picture was taken. One with many remaining mysteries, making discoveries like this highly sought after, and understanding the details of how such galaxies grow and merger to create our own Milky Way 13 billion years later is a key question.
Only the JWST can see it. Astronomers didn't know what to expect when they took a picture of the galaxy with Hubble, as the light from the expansion of the universe stretched far into the IR.
There are ten. There is a mosaic of Abell.
There is a mosaic centered on the giant Abell 2744 galaxy cluster. With the exception of a few foreground stars, every spot of light is a representation of an entire universe.
In a patch of dark sky no larger than a fraction of the full moon there are thousands of galaxies that bring home the enormity of the universe. This image can be used for a lot of things.
We will be able to answer many questions about how we came to be with the help of the JWST. There are many discoveries and questions that we can't yet predict. These unknown unknowns are sure to be interesting when you peel back the veil of time.
Under a Creative Commons license, this article is re-posted. The original article is worth a read.