Described as the most powerful telescope in the world, NASA’s James Web Telescope has captured some stunning images of our universe this year, leaving space lovers mesmerized. The next-generation observatory, priced at $10 billion, launched on the Ariane 5 rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on December 25, 2021. Named after a former NASA director, Webb follows in the footsteps of the legendary Hubble but offers glimpses into the universe that were previously inaccessible to us. Webb is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble.
On its first anniversary, here are 5 incredible images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in 2022 that have revolutionized space imaging.
Deepest infrared image of the early universe
In his first photograph taken in July 2022, Webb revealed the “deepest and sharpest infrared image of the early universe” ever taken, dating back 13 billion years. The stunning shot, which was revealed at a White House briefing by President Joe Biden, showed thousands of galaxies spilling over and featured the faintest objects ever observed, colored from the infrared to shades of blue, orange and white. The image showed the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago, with many more galaxies in front of and behind the cluster.
The same month, the telescope revealed previously hidden stellar nurseries and individual stars in the Carina Nebula. Called Cosmic Cliffs, Webb’s seemingly three-dimensional image looks like jagged mountains on a moonlit night. It’s actually the edge of the gas giant cavity within NGC 3324, and the highest “peaks” in this image are about 7 light-years high.
rings of neptune
In September 2022, the telescope captured the clearest view of Neptune’s rings in more than 30 years. In 1989, NASA’s Voyager 2 became the first spacecraft to capture the image of Neptune. According to NASA, Webb not only captured the clearest view of this distant planet’s rings since the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew past it in 1989, but his cameras also revealed the ice giant in a whole new light. . The Webb also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons.
The wagon wheel galaxy
In August 2022, Webb’s powerful infrared gaze produced this detailed image of Cartwheel and two smaller companion galaxies against a backdrop of many other galaxies. The image offered a new perspective on the evolution of the galaxy over billions of years, according to a NASA statement. The Cartwheel galaxy, located about 500 million light-years away in the constellation of Sculptor, is a rare sight. Its appearance, much like a cartwheel, is the result of an intense event: a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy not seen in this image.
The pillars of creation
In October 2022, a highly detailed, lush landscape, the iconic “Pillars of Creation,” was captured by the James Webb Telescope. The twinkle of thousands of stars illuminates the first telescope view of the gigantic columns of gold, copper and brown that lie in the middle of the cosmos. The “Pillars of Creation” are located 6,500 light years from Earth, in the Eagle Nebula of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
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