First images from the James Webb Space Telescope

14 July 2022

NASA released the first images captured by the brand new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), on Tuesday, and they did not disappoint.

The first operational JWST photo is of the SMACS 0723 galaxy cluster, which is a little over five billion light years distant. Incredible isn’t it? The cluster seems far closer. What we’re really seeing here though is a snapshot of the cluster as it appeared five billion years ago.

Check out the red streak, that looks a little like a forward-slash towards the bottom centre. According to Rebecca Allen, an astronomer at Swinburne University of Technology, this was a galaxy with many of its stars still forming. Five billion years later, it might look like our galaxy, the Milky Way, today.

SMACS 0723 galaxy cluster

Image courtesy NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO.

This picture of the Southern Ring Nebula, also known as Eight-Burst Nebula, and Caldwell 74, depicts the death throes of a binary star. The cloud of dust, hydrogen, and ionised gas, surrounding the binary is about half a light year across.

Southern Ring Nebula

Image courtesy NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI.

The Carina Nebula, situated some 8500 light years from Earth, is the sort of image we love seeing from deep space telescopes. Brimming with colour, pearly bright stars in the foreground, and intrigue, these nebulae are akin to intricate tapestries.

Carina Nebula

Image courtesy NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI.

Hands up who’s hanging out for the next batch of JWST images…

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