Captured by telescope, deepest image of the universe to be revealed in July

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We are about to have an entirely new perspective on the universe.

The James Webb Space Telescope will release its first high-resolution color images on July 12. One of those images “is the deepest image of our universe that has ever been taken,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during a news conference on Wednesday.

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“If you think about it, this is farther than humanity has ever moved before,” Nelson said. “And we are just beginning to understand what Webb can do and what he will do. It will explore objects in the solar system and atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, giving us clues as to whether their atmospheres are similar to ours.”

Nelson, who shared that he tested positive for Covid-19 Tuesday night, was unable to attend the event in person at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

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The Webb mission, which was estimated to last 10 years, has enough excess fuel capacity to operate for 20 years, according to NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy.

Meanwhile, the Webb team is finalizing the final steps of preparing the observatory and its instruments to collect scientific data, which should be finished next week, said Bill Ochs, NASA’s Webb project manager.

The observatory is performing even better than expected, mission engineers said. And the team continues to work on developing strategies to avoid micrometeoroid impacts, like the one that hit part of Webb’s mirror in May.

What to expect

The space observatory, launched in December, will be able to peer into the atmospheres of exoplanets and observe some of the first galaxies created after the beginning of the universe, observing them through infrared light, invisible to the human eye.

Webb started taking its first images a few weeks ago and is still capturing some of the images that will be shared on July 12th. This packet of color images will be the result of 120 hours of observation — about five days of data.

The telescope’s initial goal was to see the universe’s first stars and galaxies, essentially watching “the universe turn on the lights for the first time,” said Eric Smith, Webb program scientist and chief scientist in NASA’s Astrophysics Division.

The exact number and nature of the images were not shared, but “each will reveal different aspects of the universe with detail and sensitivity never seen before,” said Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

The first version will highlight Webb’s scientific capabilities, as well as the ability of its massive golden mirror and scientific instruments to produce spectacular images.

The images will show how galaxies interact and grow and how collisions between galaxies drive star formation, as well as examples of the violent life cycle of stars. And we can expect to see the first spectrum of an exoplanet, or how different wavelengths of light and colors reveal features of other worlds.

The telescope’s Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph instrument completed preparations this week. The tool will be able to use a specialized prism to scatter light collected from cosmic sources to create three distinct rainbows that reveal hues of more than 2,000 infrared colors from a single observation.

This is especially useful when observing exoplanets to determine if they have an atmosphere — and picking out atoms and molecules within them when starlight shines through the atmosphere to determine their composition.

Looking ahead

The best part is that the Webb team is just at the beginning of the mission, and the data collected by the space observatory will be publicly released so that scientists around the world “can begin a shared journey of discovery,” Pontoppidan said.

The data collected by Webb will allow scientists to make accurate measurements of planets, stars and galaxies in a way that has never been possible before, said Susan Mullally, deputy project scientist James Webb at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

“Webb can look back in time just after the Big Bang, looking for galaxies that are so far away, light took many billions of years to reach us from these galaxies,” said Jonathan Gardner, deputy senior scientist for the Webb project at NASA. .

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, has seen some of the first images that will be shared on July 12.

“It’s an exciting time when you see nature suddenly releasing some of its secrets,” Zurbuchen said Wednesday. “With this telescope, it is very difficult not to break records.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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