NASA to Unveil First Full-Colour Images From the James Webb Space Telescope
NASA to Unveil First Full-Colour Images From the James Webb Space Telescope

NASA to Unveil First Full-Colour Images From the James Webb Space Telescope

11 july, 20223 minutes to read
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NASA will soon unveil the first full-color images taken by the world's most powerful space telescope James Webb Space Telescope.

Setting up the telescope by remotely unfurling the various components, aligning the mirrors and calibrating the instruments went on for six months. And now that Webb is fine-tuned and fully focused, astronomers will begin implementing competitively selected research projects investigating the evolution of galaxies, the life cycles of stars, the atmospheres of distant exoplanets and the moons of our outer solar system.

The first batch of photographs, which took several weeks to process from the telescope's raw data, are expected to give a strong indication of what Webb will capture on upcoming science missions.

NASA published a list of five celestial objects chosen to showcase the debut of the Webb telescope built for the US space agency by aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp.

NASA will also present the first spectrographic analysis of an exoplanet - about half the mass of Jupiter, more than 1100 light-years away. It will show the molecular signatures of filtered light streaming through its atmosphere.

Although scientists knew the telescope's introductory targets, NASA officials assure that Webb's images present objects in a whole new light, literally.

The $9 billion infrared telescope, the largest and most sophisticated astronomical observatory ever sent into space, was launched on Christmas Day from French Guiana on the northeastern coast of South America.

Webb, which observes objects mainly in the infrared spectrum, is about 100 times more sensitive than its 30-year-old predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, which orbits the Earth at 340 miles (547.18 kilometres) and operates mainly in the optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.

The large light-gathering surface of Webb's main mirror, an array of 18 hexagonal gold-coated beryllium metal, allows it to observe objects at greater distances and therefore further back in time than the Hubble or any other telescope. Its infrared sensitivity allows it to detect light sources that would otherwise be obscured in the visible spectrum by dust and gas.

Together, these capabilities are expected to change astronomy, allowing the first glimpse of infant galaxies that emerged just 100 million years after the Big Bang, the theoretical outburst that propelled the expansion of the known universe some 13.8 billion years ago.

Webb's instruments also allow it to look for signs of potentially habitable atmospheres in dozens of recently discovered plants orbiting distant stars and to observe worlds much closer to home, such as Mars and Saturn's icy moon Titan.

11 july, 2022
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