(CNN) –– NASA revealed live Tuesday the first high-resolution, color images from the James Webb Space Telescope, showing the universe as you’ve never seen it before. From a stellar nursery where stars are born, to the interactions between galaxies and the unique perspective of an exoplanet: these are just some of the new cosmic images that were shared.
After waiting for decades, the time has finally come for the world to see the first images of the most powerful space telescope in history: the James Webb. Development of this space observatory began in 2004. And, after years of delays, the telescope and its huge golden mirror were finally launched on December 25.
The images are worth the wait: they will forever change the way we see the universe. Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA, he wrote that Webb will give humanity a new view of space and fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe. “These images show Webb’s power in searching for signs of life and habitability on other worlds. His extreme sensitivity will help scientists understand some of the big questions about how and why stars form,” he said. .
The first image gives a glimpse of the deep universe
This Monday, President Joe Biden revealed one of the first images of Webb. It is “the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date,” according to NASA. The photograph shows SMACS 0723, where a massive group of galaxy clusters works like a magnifying glass for objects behind them. Called gravitational lensing, this created Webb’s first deep field glimpse of incredibly old and faint galaxies.
Some of these distant galaxies and star clusters have never been seen before. The galaxy cluster is shown as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago.
The image, taken by Webb’s near-infrared camera, is made up of pictures taken in different wavelengths of light over a total of 12.5 hours. Deep field observations are extended observations of regions of the sky that can reveal faint objects.
A dying star, the second image from NASA’s James Webb Telescope
Two cameras from the Webb Space Telescope captured the latest image of this planetary nebula, called NGC 3132, but informally known as the South Ring Nebula or “Eight Bangs,” which is about 2,500 light-years away, according to NASA. POT. The agency explained that “the fainter star at the center of this scene has sent out rings of gas and dust for thousands of years in all directions, and the Webb telescope revealed for the first time that this star is covered in dust.”
In this sense, NASA pointed out that Webb will allow us to delve into much more detail about planetary nebulae like this one: “Clouds of gas and dust expelled by dying stars.” And “understanding which molecules are present and where they are found in the gas and dust layers will help researchers refine their knowledge of these objects.”
Stephan’s Quintet offers a look at how galaxies interact
The telescope’s view of Stephan’s Quintet will help reveal how galaxies interact with each other and how their interactions can shape galactic evolution. This compact group of galaxies, first discovered in 1787, lies 290 million light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. Four of the five galaxies in the group “are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters,” according to a NASA statement.
This huge mosaic is Webb’s largest image to date and covers about a fifth of the Moon’s diameter, the agency said. “It contains more than 150 million pixels and is constructed from nearly 1,000 separate image files. Webb’s information provides new insights into how galactic interactions may have driven the evolution of galaxies in the early universe.”
Mark McCaughrean, senior adviser for science and exploration at the European Space Agency, said the picture shows the view from our own Milky Way to distant galaxies, even capturing the creation of new stars.
When the near-infrared tool is removed from the image, you see mostly gas and dust. But it does reveal an active black hole, according to ESA astronomer Giovanna Giardino. “We can’t see the black hole itself, but we see it consuming the swirling material,” Giardino said.
The gas heats up to extremely high temperatures as it folds and becomes very bright, “40 billion times the luminosity of our Sun,” he explained.
This Webb Telescope Image Shows Where Stars Are Born
Located 7,600 light-years away, the Carina Nebula is a stellar nursery, where stars are born. It is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky and is home to many stars much more massive than our Sun.
“Cosmic cliffs” can be seen in the stunning new image that reveals previously hidden baby stars. Which provides “an unusual look at stars in their earliest and fastest stages of formation,” according to NASA.
The image, which was captured in infrared light from the Webb telescope, shows previously invisible areas of star birth for the first time.
The worlds that NASA’s Webb Telescope will open
NASA’s telescope can investigate the mysteries of the universe by observing them through infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye.
Webb will observe the atmospheres of exoplanets, some of which are potentially habitable. He might also uncover clues in the ongoing search for life outside of Earth.
The observatory will also have glimpses of every phase of cosmic history, including the first afterglows after the Big Bang that created our universe and the formation of the galaxies, stars and planets that make it up today.
Now Webb is ready to help us understand the origins of the universe. As well as to begin to answer key questions about our existence, for example where we come from and if we are alone in the cosmos.
The mission, initially planned to last 10 years, has enough excess fuel capacity to operate for 20 years, according to NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy.
These will be just the first of many images to come from Webb over the next two decades. Which promises to fundamentally alter the way we understand the cosmos.