It will be closer to the Big Bang and the edge of the cosmos than anything humans have ever seen in time or space, according to the first image from the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope. Four additional pictures of the galaxy’s beauty taken during the telescope’s initial outward scans will be made public on Tuesday after that image.
NASA predicted Biden would display a “deep field” picture. That image will probably contain a lot of stars, with large galaxies in the foreground telescoping the light of the objects behind them to reveal faint and incredibly distant galaxies. Light from not too long after the Big Bang will be visible in part of the image.
A view of a massive gaseous planet outside of our solar system, two images of a nebula where stars are born and die in breathtaking beauty, and an update of a vintage image of five closely clustered galaxies dancing around one another are among the images that will be made public on Tuesday.
Last December, the largest and most potent space telescope in the world launched from French Guiana in South America. In January, it traveled 1.6 million kilometers to get to its lookout point. Then, under the cover of a sunshade the size of a tennis court that keeps the telescope cool, the laborious process of aligning the mirrors, getting the infrared detectors cold enough to operate, and calibrating the science instruments began.
The objective is to use the telescope to look back in time so far that researchers can see the beginning of the universe, which occurred about 13.7 billion years ago, and to zoom in on nearby cosmic objects, including our own solar system, with greater clarity.
Webb is seen as the upgrade to the venerable but highly successful Hubble Space Telescope. As far back as 13.4 billion years, Hubble has gazed. In 2016, it discovered the galaxy’s extremely bright light wave signature.
With the help of the new telescope, the cosmos is “giving up secrets that had been there for many, many decades, centuries, millennia,” according to NASA’s science mission chief Thomas Zurbuchen.
“It is not an image.” During a recent media briefing, he said, “You’re going to see a new world view.
It’s really difficult to not look at the universe in new light and not just have a moment that is deeply personal, according to Zurbuchen, who claimed that he and his colleagues also became emotional upon seeing the images.
On Webb, NASA is working with the Canadian and European space agencies.