Described as the world’s most powerful telescope, 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 was launched atop 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 of the universe that were inaccessible to us before. 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 imagery.
Deepest Infrared Image Of Early Universe
In its first picture taken in July 2022, Webb revealed the “deepest and sharpest infrared image of the early universe” ever taken, going back 13 billion years. The stunning shot, which was revealed in a White House briefing by President Joe Biden, showed thousands of galaxies overflowing and featured the faintest objects ever observed, colorized from infrared to blue, orange, and white tones. 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 emerging stellar nurseries and individual stars in the Carina Nebula that were previously obscured. Called the Cosmic Cliffs, Webb’s seemingly three-dimensional picture looks like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening. In reality, it is the edge of the giant, gaseous cavity within NGC 3324, and the tallest “peaks” in this image are about 7 light-years high.
In September 2022, the telescope captured the clearest view of Neptune’s rings after over 30 years. In 1989, NASA’s Voyager 2 became the first spacecraft to capture the image of Neptune. According to NASA, Webb did not just capture the clearest view of this distant planet’s rings since the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by it in 1989, but its cameras also revealed the ice giant in a whole new light. The Webb also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons.
The Cartwheel Galaxy
In August 2022, Webb’s powerful infrared gaze produced this detailed image of the Cartwheel and two smaller companion galaxies against a backdrop of many other galaxies. The image offered a fresh perspective on the evolution of the galaxy over the course of billions of years, according to a release from NASA. The Cartwheel Galaxy, located about 500 million light-years away in the Sculptor constellation, is a rare sight. Its appearance, much like that of the wheel of a wagon, is the result of an intense event – a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy not visible in this image.
The Pillars of Creation
In October 2022, a lush and highly detailed landscape- the iconic “Pillars of Creation” was caught by James Webb Telescope. The twinkling of thousands of stars illuminates the telescope’s first shot of the gigantic gold, copper, and brown columns standing in the midst of the cosmos. The “Pillars of Creation” are located 6,500 light years from Earth, in the Eagle Nebula of our Milky Way galaxy.
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