NASA’s James Webb Telescope Captures New Detail Of Distant Galaxy Cluster
The images marked the first time a distant galaxy cluster was seen as it appeared over 4 billion years ago in such vivid detail.
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden revealed one of the first full-color images from the James Webb Space Telescope, marking the first time human beings have seen a distant galaxy cluster as it appeared more than 4 billion years ago in such vivid detail.
“It’s a new window into the history of our universe, and today we’re gonna get a glimpse of the first light to shine through that window,” Biden said Monday during an event at the White House. “It’s astounding to me.”
The images are the highest-resolution view of the universe ever captured, and demonstrate the capabilities of the $10 billion observatory designed to view deep into space and time. It depicts the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago, according to NASA, and shows tiny, faint structures in distant galaxies that have never been seen before.
“If you held a grain of sand on the tip of your finger at arm’s length that is the part of the universe that you’re seeing,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said. “That light that you are seeing on one of those little specks has been traveling for over 13 billion years.”
NASA is set to unveil additional images Tuesday that Biden said “will be a historic moment for science and technology, for astronomy and space exploration, for America and all of humanity.”
“These images are going to remind the world that America can do big things,” he said.
The satellite telescope -- the largest ever launched -- was sent into orbit roughly a million miles from Earth late last year, and has been undergoing months of tests, calibrations and alignments. The image released Monday at the White House is the first of a batch that are expected to be unveiled by NASA and the European Space Agency this week, depicting details of star formations, galaxy clusters, and distant planets.
Read more: Massive Webb Telescope May See Close to the Beginning of Time
The satellite uses infrared light, allowing it to see farther than any previous telescope -- including the Hubble telescope, which it is replacing. Scientists hope Webb will provide new revelations about what the early universe looked like, how galaxies and black holes evolve, and the life cycles of stars and planetary systems.
“Today represents an exciting new chapter in the exploration of our universe,” Vice President Kamala Harris said, adding that the telescope “will enhance what we know about the origins of our universe, our solar system, and possibly life itself.”
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