On the anniversary of the arrival of NASA’s Webb Telescope, here are the most striking images so far

Tuesday marks one year since the James Webb Space Telescope reached its destination, orbiting 1 million miles from Earth.

The Webb Telescope, which launched on Christmas Day 2021, was a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency to study the formation of the first galaxies in the universe, how they compare to today’s galaxies, how our solar system developed and whether there is life on other planets.

He uses infrared radiation to detect objects in space and can see celestial bodies that are usually invisible to the naked eye.

Since then, the Webb Telescope has returned many images, including stars, planets and nebulae and even galaxies millions of miles away.

Here are some of the most striking images taken over the course of a year:

Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center November 2, 2016 in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

distant galaxies

The first color image taken by the Webb Telescope was unveiled at a July 11 White House press event hosted by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is “the deepest, sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date”, according to NASA.

In the first image from the James Webb Space Telescope to be released on July 11, 2022, the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the early universe was taken in less than a day. Similar images from the Hubble telescope took several weeks to produce. The space background is black as thousands of galaxies appear with their varying shapes and colors. These galaxies are part of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 and distort the appearance of the galaxies observed around them.

Space Telescope Science Institute/NASA

Thousands of galaxies can be seen in the image but, according to NASA, it spans the size of the equivalent of someone holding a grain of sand an arm’s length away.

It was also the first time the public realized how much more powerful Webb was than its predecessor, the Hubble Telescope, which only sees visible light, ultraviolet radiation and near-infrared radiation.

cosmic cliffs

The image, revealed July 12 at a NASA event, showed new details of the Carina Nebula, located in the Milky Way galaxy.

Only the edge of the nebula is visible, but the image shows hundreds of stars that were previously obscured by a cloud of gas and dust.

Behind the curtain of dust and gas of these cosmic cliffs previously hide baby stars, discovered by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in an image released on July 12, 2022.


The area, called cosmic cliffs, shows a “giant gaseous cavity” as newly born young stars repel ultraviolet radiation and create the jagged edge.

The cloud-like structure of the nebula contains ridges, peaks and valleys – an appearance very similar to a mountain range.

Jupiter in detail

On August 22, NASA revealed two new images of Jupiter taken by Webb, which show the planet’s atmosphere, rings and moons in detail never seen before.

The first image is a composite showing swirls of different colors, indicating Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, and the infamous Great Red Spot, which can produce winds of over 250 miles per hour.

The second image shows Jupiter’s rings, which are a million times fainter than the planet – according to NASA – and two of its moons, Adrastea and Amalthea.


An image of Jupiter, captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, released on August 22, 2022, comes from the telescope’s near-infrared camera, which has three specialized infrared filters that show detail on the planet. In this wide-field view, Webb sees Jupiter with its faint rings, which are a million times fainter than the planet, and two tiny moons called Amalthea and Adrastea. The blurry spots in the lower background are likely galaxies “photobombing” this Jovian view.

Space Telescope Science Institute/NASA

ghost galaxy

First published Aug. 30 by ESA, Webb captured an image of the ghost galaxy, located about 32 million light-years from Earth.

Also known as M74, the Phantom Galaxy has low surface brightness, which makes it difficult to see and requires clear and dark skies to do so. However, Webb’s sharp lens captured the clearest image of the galaxy’s features.

“These spiral arms are traced by blue and pink bursts, which are star forming regions,” NASA wrote in a social media post. “A mottled cluster of young stars shines blue at the very heart of the galaxy.”

ghost galaxy

This James Webb Space Telescope image, released on August 31, 2022, shows the core of M74, otherwise known as the phantom galaxy. The telescope revealed gray filaments forming a spiral pattern winding outward from the center of the galaxy. These spiral arms of the galaxy are drawn in blue and pink and represent the regions in which stars form. The very core of the galaxy is colored blue and has spots, which are young stars that form around the core of the galaxy.

Space Telescope Science Institute/NASA

Pillars of Creation

NASA released an image of ‘The Pillars of Creation’ – bright red young stars in a cloud of gas and dust – on October 19

The Pillars of Creation are elephant trunks, a type of interstellar matter formation, located in the Eagle Nebula, which lies about 6,500 to 7,000 light-years from Earth, according to the agency. spatial.

Pillars of Creation

The “Pillars of Creation” have layers of semi-opaque rusty red gas and dust that start at the bottom left and run upwards to the right in this James Webb Space Telescope image, released October 19, 2022. The Pillars of Creation, first captured by the Hubble Telescope in 1995, were photographed by the Webb Telescope in the near infrared, which is invisible to the human eye. Seeing in the infrared allows Webb to pierce the dust and reveal many stars. Webb’s image identifies more accurate counts of newborn stars, as well as amounts of gas and dust.

Space Telescope Science Institute/NASA

fire hourglass

Released Nov. 16, the Webb Telescope reveals a protostar, which is the early stages of star birth.

The gas cloud in red and orange contorts in the shape of a fiery hourglass.

As it sucks in material, its core compresses, gets hotter, and eventually begins nuclear fusion, creating a star.

fiery hourglass

The James Webb Space Telescope catches a flaming hourglass as a new star forms in an image released November 16, 2022. Hidden in the neck of this “hourglass” of light are the very beginnings of a new star, known as the name of protostar. This protostar is a hot, puffy cluster of gas that is only a fraction of the Sun’s mass. As it sucks in material, its core compresses, gets hotter, and eventually begins nuclear fusion, creating a star.

Space Telescope Science Institute/NASA

The coldest ice ever measured

The last image released by NASA before the first anniversary shows a molecular cloud, where stars and planets are born, with icy ingredients.

The telescope shows the frozen form of the elements, including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur.

PHOTO: This image from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) shows the central region of the dark molecular cloud Chamaeleon I, which lies 630 light-years away.

This image from the near-infrared camera (NIRCam) of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope shows the central region of the dark molecular cloud Chamaeleon I, which lies 630 light-years away.

Space Telescope Science Institute/NASA, ESA, CSA and M. McClure

“We are not talking about ice cubes,” NASA wrote in a

January 23. “This molecular cloud is so cold and dark that various molecules have frozen to specks of dust inside. Webb’s data proves for the first time that molecules more complex than methanol can form in the icy depths of these clouds before stars were born.”

ABC News’ Max Zahn contributed to this report.

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