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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
We’re not talking ice cubes: This molecular cloud is so cold and dark that various molecules have frozen onto grains of dust inside. Webb’s data proves for the first time that molecules more complex than methanol can form in the icy depths of such clouds before stars are born.— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) January 23, 2023
ABC News’ Max Zahn contributed to this report.
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