NASA shares a look at an image from the James Webb Telescope
(CNN) — Prepare to see breathtaking views of the universe like you’ve never seen it before.
The James Webb Space Telescope will release its first high-resolution color images on July 12, one of which “is the deepest image of our universe ever taken,” according to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
The space observatory, which was 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, seeing them through infrared light, invisible to the human eye.
The first release of images will highlight Webb’s scientific capabilities, as well as the ability of his huge golden mirror and scientific instruments to produce spectacular images.
NASA unveiled the first five cosmic Webb targets on Friday, giving a preview of what we can expect to see in the released images. The targets were selected by an international committee, which includes members from NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency and the Baltimore Space Telescope Science Institute.
One of the targets is the Carina nebula, located 7,600 light-years away. This stellar nursery, where stars are born, is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky and is home to many stars much more massive than our sun.
Also, the first full color spectrum of an exoplanet, known as WASP-96b, will be shared on Tuesday. The spectrum will include different wavelengths of light that could reveal new information about the planet located 1,150 light-years from Earth, such as whether it has an atmosphere. The gas giant planet, which was discovered in 2014 and is half the mass of Jupiter, completes one orbit around its star every 3.4 days.
The third target is the South Ring nebula, also called “of the Eight”, which is 2,000 light years from Earth. This large planetary nebula includes an expanding cloud of gas around a dying star.
Stephan’s Quintet, also planned in the publication, will reveal the way galaxies interact with each other. This compact group of galaxies, first discovered in 1787, is located 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.
The latest target is SMACS 0723, where a huge group of galaxy clusters acts as a magnifying glass for objects behind. This, called gravitational lensing, will create Webb’s first deep-field view of incredibly old, distant and faint galaxies. It will be the deepest that the human being has ever looked into the universe.
The telescope’s initial goal was to see the universe’s first stars and galaxies, that is, to see “the universe turn on the lights for the first time,” said Eric Smith, Webb program scientist and chief of NASA’s Astrophysics Division.
Smith has worked on the Webb since the project began in the mid-1990s.
“The James Webb Space Telescope will give us a powerful new set of eyes to examine our universe,” Smith wrote in an update. “The world is about to be a mystery again.”