The image shows SMACS 0723, where a massive group of galaxy clusters act as a magnifying glass for the objects behind them. Called gravitational lensing, this created Webb’s first deep-field view of incredibly old and distant faint galaxies.
The presentation took place at the White House during a preview event with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
“It’s the deepest image of our universe that has ever been taken,” Nelson said.
Some of these distant galaxies and star clusters have never been seen before. The galaxy cluster is depicted as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago.
“This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky about the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground,” according to a NASA statement.
The image, taken by Webb’s near-infrared camera, is made up of images taken at different wavelengths of light over the course of 12.5 hours. The deepest fields of the Hubble Space Telescope took weeks to capture.
The rest of the high-resolution color images will debut on Tuesday, July 12.
The first image release highlights Webb’s scientific abilities as well as the ability of his enormous golden mirror and scientific instruments to produce spectacular images.
Opening remarks from NASA leadership and the Webb team will begin Tuesday at 9:45 a.m. ET, followed by an image broadcast beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET. The images will be revealed one by one, and a press conference at 12:30 p.m. ET will offer details about them.
The first pictures
NASA shared Webb’s first cosmic targets on Friday, providing a preview of what Tuesday’s image release will include: the Carina Nebula, WASP-96b, the South Ring Nebula and Stephan’s Quintet.
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.
Webb’s study of the gas giant planet WASP-96b will be the first color spectrum of an exoplanet. The spectrum will include different wavelengths of light that could reveal new information about the planet, such as whether it has an atmosphere. Discovered in 2014, WASP-96b is located 1,150 light-years from Earth. It has half the mass of Jupiter and orbits its star every 3.4 days.
The Southern Ring Nebula, also known as the “Eight-Burst”, is 2,000 light-years from Earth. This large planetary nebula includes an expanding cloud of gas around a dying star.
The space telescope view of Stephan’s Quintet will reveal how 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 targets were selected by an international committee, including members from NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
These will be the first of many images to come from Webb, the most powerful telescope ever launched into space. The mission, originally scheduled to last 10 years, has enough excess fuel capacity to operate for 20 years, according to NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy.
“Webb can look back in time to just after the big bang by looking for galaxies so far away that it took light billions of years to get from those galaxies to us,” said scientist Jonathan Gardner. deputy principal of the Webb project at NASA. , during a recent press conference. “Webb is larger than Hubble, allowing it to see fainter galaxies that are further away.”
The telescope’s original goal was to see the first stars and galaxies in the universe, essentially watching “the universe turn on the lights for the first time,” said Eric Smith, Webb program scientist and chief scientist of the NASA Astrophysics Division.
Smith has worked on Webb since the project began in the mid-1990s.