NASA's Webb Telescope captures new views of stars, galaxies and the early universe

NASA’s Webb Telescope captures new views of stars, galaxies and the early universe

NASA’s James Webb Area Telescope has simply opened its eyes and the universe is new, extra mysterious, extra lovely than humanity’s goals. The biggest telescope ever flown was launched into deep house on Christmas Day 2021. Its main mission is to disclose the “let there be gentle” second, when the stars and galaxies lit up for the primary time for the reason that large bang. We just lately took a take a look at some charming photos as Webb delves into the origin of all of it.

That is one in every of Webb’s first deep dives into the cosmos: 250 hours of imagination-expanding reveals.

Scott Pelley: And all these dots are stars?

Brant Robertson: All of those dots are galaxies, a few of that are greater than ours.

Astrophysicist Brant Robertson has despatched us flying by means of 130,000 galaxies, half by no means seen earlier than, big swirls of billions of stars every, some like our personal Milky Means, and a few, nicely, out of this world.

Brant Robertson: We name this galaxy within the heart of the display screen the Cosmic Rose. Simply by probability, it appears like a rose. You may see that dusty purple irregular galaxy.

Scott Pelley talks with Brant Robertson in regards to the discoveries of the Webb telescope

60 minutes

Brant Robertson: You realize, house is extra crowded than you would possibly assume, and galaxies really find yourself interacting with one another. They may really mix collectively. So, I am now zooming in on a pair of galaxies which might be merging collectively, interacting. You may see that they’re disturbed, as a result of one galaxy’s gravity pulls the celebs away from the opposite galaxy.

Scott Pelley: They’re assembly.

Brant Robertson: They’re assembly.

Robertson, of the College of California, Santa Cruz, helps lead Webb’s most formidable mission, the superior deep extragalactic investigation.

Brant Robertson: Properly, we have found the farthest galaxy within the universe, the furthest from us that we’re at present conscious of. I would prefer to share it with you. Can I present you some photographs?

Scott Pelley: Please. I wish to see it.

Brant Robertson: In order we zoom in we go on, we go on, and now this purple blur that you just see there, that galaxy, that is a galaxy. That galaxy is greater than 33 billion gentle years away.

Scott Pelley: How lengthy after the Huge Bang, the start of the universe, did this galaxy type?

Brant Robertson: It is superb. Solely 320 million years have handed for the reason that Huge Bang.

The farthest galaxy up to now, proper there, would not appear to be a lot, however astronomers can fill textbooks by analyzing the spectrum of its gentle.

Brant Robertson: So we are able to really measure issues like how briskly it is forming stars. We will measure the quantity of stars within the galaxy. We all know the dimensions, as a result of we all know how far it’s. And we all know the standard age of stars within the galaxy. So, we all know loads.

The primary galaxy but, fashioned when the universe was 2% of its present age. And the little galaxy ignited the celebs at a livid tempo.

Brant Robertson: It is like a hummingbird. You realize, the heartbeat of this galaxy is so speedy.

Scott Pelley: What do you imply by that?

Brant Robertson: Properly, this galaxy is forming stars at in regards to the pace of the Milky Means, though it is 100 instances much less huge. So it is actually like a hummingbird, the heartbeat of this galaxy is quickening.

James Webb Area Telescope

NASA, SkyWorks Digital, Northrop Grumman, STScI

Various human hearts have been racing in 2021 just like the $10 billion observatory prepared for launch.

Earlier that 12 months we have been among the many final to see Webb in California earlier than he was folded right into a 15-foot-wide nostril.

Scott Pelley: Properly, one way or the other, it is loads greater than I imagined.

After twenty-five years of labor, Webb is called after one in every of NASA’s first directors. Northrop Grumman engineer Amy Lo confirmed us, under, the silver sunscreen, the dimensions of a tennis court docket, and 21 toes of golden mirrors to gather the sunshine.

Scott Pelley: There are 18 of those hexagonal mirrors. However once you fold them, do all of them work collectively like a mirror?

Amy Lo: Precisely. All 18 photos will type a really good and stable picture.

Webb launched on a European rocket into an orbit across the solar, 1,000,000 miles away. To arrange for the observations, the engineers used a star to align these mirrors. However the picture was speckled with what gave the impression to be digital noise artifacts, forcing a better look.

Carina Nebula


Matt Mountain: These weren’t detector artifacts. These weren’t bizarre stars. The entire sky was full of galaxies. There was no empty sky. And that is after I mentioned, “This telescope goes to be phenomenal.”

Matt Mountain leads Webb’s operations as president of the Affiliation of Astronomy Analysis Universities.

Scott Pelley: No empty skies? What do you imply by this?

Matt Mountain: In virtually the entire photos we’re capturing now, we see galaxies in every single place. I imply, we took a easy image of a planet in our system, Neptune. You realize, there was this lovely sphere proper there and we noticed rings. Within the background are the galaxies once more. It tells us that our universe is filled with galaxies. We knew this theoretically, however once you exit into the night time sky, we’re used to saying, “Properly, take a look at the night time sky, we see these stars.” We will now not inform. Now now we have to say, “Have a look at the night time sky, and there are galaxies in every single place.”

Scott Pelley: We name it house as a result of we thought there was nothing on the market.

Matt Mountain: There isn’t any empty sky with James Webb. That is what we found.

Matt Mountain says Webb is a reminder of how a lot we do not know. For instance, galaxies are transferring away from one another at ever-increasing speeds, defying gravity. It doesn’t make sense. So the scientists deduce that there have to be invisible components at work. They name them darkish power and darkish matter.

Matt Mountain: And everytime you hear the time period “darkish power” or “darkish matter,” it means we do not know what it’s. We’re not that imaginative. However it’s a power, it is 95% of our universe. And we do not know what it’s.

Scott Pelley: Wait a minute, 95% of our universe is made up of darkish power and darkish matter and we do not know what it’s?

Matt Mountain: Precisely. We’re fortunate if right this moment we perceive even 4% of our universe. Astronomy is a really humbling self-discipline.

Humiliating however, with Webb…

…even thrilling.

That is Purdue College astronomer Dan Milisavljevic starstruck, chatting with a colleague.

Even Wilbur, who is not an astronomer, strained to see what all of the fuss was about. Milisavljevic research the exploding stars that have been the furnaces that solid the primary heavy components from a cosmos of straightforward helium and hydrogen.

Dan Milisavljevic: At any time when there’s a supernova explosion, it produces the uncooked supplies for all times. The iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the oxygen we breathe, (inhale) love that oxygen, all that’s produced in supernova explosions.

Scott Pelley: The late astronomer Carl Sagan mentioned, “We’re all fabricated from star stuff.”

Dan Milisavljevic: Precisely.

Webb reveals unprecedented particulars on the coronary heart of those explosions.

Dan Milisavljevic: And that is what Webb is most delicate to for our functions, understanding what is going on on contained in the explosion that we could not see earlier than, as a result of it solely comes out in infrared gentle.

Infrared gentle is what Webb is designed to see. Like an evening imaginative and prescient digital camera, the telescope is delicate to thermal radiation, which is all that is left of the sunshine that has reached us for the reason that daybreak of time. The issue is that infrared is invisible to the human eye.

Scott Pelley: Whenever you first take the Webb knowledge, what does it appear to be?

Joe DePasquale: Primarily, it appears like a clean display screen.

Alyssa Pagan and Joe DePasquale are astronomers and science imagers for the Area Telescope Science Institute. That is what a Webb infrared picture appears like till they match the data-filled darkness with the colours of marvel.

Alyssa Pagan and Joe DePasquale

60 minutes

Joe DePasquale: So we take these longer wavelengths of infrared gentle and provides them purple colours. The subsequent shorter wavelengths can be inexperienced, and subsequently the shorter wavelengths we get from Webb are coloured blue. And so, identical to our eyes work, we take these three colour channels, mix them collectively to create the colour photos that we see from Webb.

Amongst their favourite photos is that this star cluster with the not-so-wonderful identify: NGC 346. Cosmic mud sculpted into ripples by the interactions between the celebs and the Tarantula Nebula, a nursery of star start in opposition to a backdrop of galaxies.

Scott Pelley: It happens to me that you’re the primary two individuals to see these photos in human historical past.

Joe DePasquale: It is an actual honor.

Alyssa Pagan: Sure. It is an enormous honor and blows your thoughts each time.

There will likely be many mind-blowing revelations. Webb is already the primary to search out carbon dioxide within the sky of a planet 700 gentle years away. He’ll proceed to search for planets with atmospheres that might assist life.

On the opposite finish of the time scale, astrophysicist Erica Nelson of the College of Colorado, Boulder thinks her group might have made a discovery that she says would shatter the idea of how the early universe fashioned.

Erica Nelson: Both that is mistaken, or it is a big breakthrough, and we predict it is an enormous breakthrough.

Extra observations are wanted, however Nelson is investigating what may very well be 5 big galaxies that seem to have fashioned too shortly after the massive bang. If they’re confirmed, astronomy might need to revise the chronology of galaxy formation.



Erica Nelson: And that is probably the most thrilling piece of this, this telescope, this superb instrument that we have put into house, is discovering issues that we did not count on, that we will not clarify. As a result of meaning we have to revise our understanding of the universe.

Brant Robertson, who confirmed us the primary galaxy discovered up to now by the James Webb Telescope, advised us the file for the primary will not final lengthy.

Scott Pelley: How far are you able to hint the origins of the universe?

Brant Robertson: Properly, JWST is so phenomenal that if you happen to spend sufficient time, you might in all probability discover any galaxy that has ever fashioned within the universe. It truly is that highly effective.

Scott Pelley: Will the historical past of astronomy be divided between earlier than and after Webb?

Matt Mountain: Sure. I feel will probably be.

Matt Mountain, who runs Webb’s operations, advised us the observatory can last as long as 25 years, maybe lengthy sufficient to grasp house and time and the origins of life.

Matt Mountain: We’re seeing a universe that we have by no means seen earlier than. We thought it was there, we hoped it was, however now we see it for the primary time.

Produced by: Aaron Weisz. Affiliate Producer, Ian Flickinger. Affiliate to the published, Michelle Karim. Edited by: Michael Mongulla.

Author: ZeroToHero

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