Earlier this year, NASA released the first image from the James Webb Space Telescope, a freeze frame representing the deepest, sharpest infrared image of the universe humanity has ever seen.
In the months that followed, the $10 billion telescope, named after the NASA administrator who served during the 1960s, revealed more impressive glimpses of outer space in stunning detail. Unfathomably huge dying stars spewing gas and dust into the void and nebulae invisible to the naked eye were captured in a way that captivated scientists and amateur stargazers alike.
The telescope’s first steps in 2022 have fundamentally transformed expectations for astronomy and sparked new enthusiasm for its limitless potential for years to come.
Here are five memorable images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope over the past year.
The first image released by the James Webb Space Telescope, called SMACS 0723, showed numerous galaxies shining around each other in a swath of the universe the size of a grain of sand with its arm outstretched against the sky.
“This mission was made possible by human ingenuity: the incredible Webb team at NASA and our international partners at the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. release. “Webb is just the beginning of what we can achieve in the future when we work together for the benefit of humanity.”
The nebulous Cosmic Cliffs, an area of the Carina Nebula known as the cradle of star formation, featured the dramatic chaos of interstellar energy made possible by the telescope’s sensitivity to infrared light, allowing it to see through space dust. which normally clouds our vision. .
The capabilities of the Webb Space Telescope allow scientists to find the most elusive phases of star formation and focus them in ways not previously possible.
The James Webb Space Telescope peered into the Cartwheel Galaxy, named for its wheel-like appearance. The unique stellar events occurred after a high-speed collision between two galaxies triggered a cascade of smaller galactic events.
The image captured the galaxy’s bright inner ring and its colorful outer ring, located 500 million light-years away, and provided a whole new perspective on the changing mechanisms taking place in the Cartwheel Galaxy over thousands of years. millions of years.
SOUTHERN RING NEBULA
The images of the Southern Ring Nebula, located about 2,500 light-years away, were some of the first data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope analyzed by scientists.
It showed at least two never-before-seen stars, and using the telescope’s infrared capabilities allowed the researchers to again find the precise point of the nebula’s central star before it died and sent its mass into space.
The iconic Pillars of Creation, famously photographed by NASA’s Hubble Telescope, were seen in a whole new perspective in 2022 after the James Webb Space Telescope used near-infrared light to pierce through clouds that previously confounded previous photos.
Located in the Eagle Nebula, about 7,000 light-years from Earth, the latest image showed the uniquely shaped plumes of gas and dust that appear translucent under the telescope’s piercing eyes. NASA said the new view of the nebula will allow researchers to gain new insight into how stars form over millions of years.