Seeing Into The Past
The new James Webb telescope launched by NASA has revealed a breathtaking look into our universe. The telescope's infrared technology lets it take in a vast amount of light that is beyond the visual spectrum. Like other telescopes of its type, JWST acts as a kind of time machine and stares at places many lightyears away. This allows scientists to view galactic scenery that's billions of years old, providing a glimpse backwards into the earliest stages of the universe’s formation.
The telescope’s first image released to the public was Webb’s First Deep Field, showcasing a beautiful smattering of galaxies, with each tiny pinprick of life containing billions of stars. A deep-field photograph takes an image of a tiny sliver of sky and subjects it to a long exposure time. The result is a single image containing thousands of galaxies as they appeared over four billion years ago. The infrared spectrum photo is then analyzed and interpreted by astronomers and artists to create an incredible look at the sky, that's just as full of information as it is wonder.
The detail on all these new photos are beyond anything we've ever seen before; the Webb is orders of magnitude beyond our previous telescopes! But these early awe-inspiring images are only the first of what’s to be a long career for the JWST.
The telescope has an expected life of 20 years, during which time it’ll be able to observe the first galaxies that formed just after the Big Bang, and maybe even aid in the search for habitable exoplanets. Who knows who may be looking back at us from these far off reaches of the universe?