The James Webb Space Telescope has arrived at its final destination, nearly a month after launch.
While the Hubble Space Telescope orbits the Earth, Webb orbits the Sun, but aligned with the Earth.
Thiago Gonçalves, an astronomer at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told CNN that James Webb is “definitely a new look at the Universe, with the disadvantage that it is very far away.”
The telescope’s observation point is more than a million kilometers from Earth and beyond the moon itself. Jame Webb will stay aligned with the Earth to protect himself from the Sun.
“It is essential that the telescope is protected from the region of the Sun. If it were directly exposed, it would greatly interfere with the observations. The point is, it allows the Earth to serve as a heat shield,” he said.
Compared to Hubble, Gonçalves explains that the new telescope is much larger and has other unique features.
“James Webb has instruments with much more modern technology compared to Hubble, launched 30 years ago. In addition, James Webb observes in the infrared. This means that it observes a different type of radiation, Hubble observes visible light, the same type of light that our eye can see, for example.”
The astronomer also points out that scientists expect the new telescope to be able to see increasingly distant radiation.
“He can see better through clouds of dust. The stars are born inside these clouds, we will get better inside these clouds because the radiation passes through better. And at the same time, James Webb has this goal of seeing the first galaxies and the light of these galaxies, as they travel through the Universe, it changes.”
For Gonçalves, scientists hope that because of this, it will be a great way to see galaxies that are very distant.
The scientist explains that there are many people who want to study the atmosphere of other planets in search of life. According to the astronomer, it is possible that James Webb can observe molecules with the help of infrared.
“We won’t see any aliens, but we expect to see chemical signals, or some chemical process happening in the atmosphere on planets that are light years away.”
The astronomer said that the expectation for what the telescope will discover is very good.
“When there is a launch of a telescope like this, we don’t know that we will be able to observe it”, he said.
According to the astronomer, the lifespan of James Webb is about 10 years, but there is hope that it will last longer. For him, “it’s super interesting to think about what we can’t find out and we’ll only find out in the next five or 10 years”, he says.
Reference: CNN Brasil