Pic: US President Joe Biden applauds the first images during a briefing from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officials at the White House in Washington, Monday
NASA has released an image of far-flung galaxies as they were 13bn years ago, the first glimpse from the most powerful telescope ever launched into space, which promises to reshape our understanding of the dawn of the universe. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with details.
Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.
This deep field, taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totaling 12.5 hours – achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond the Hubble Space Telescope’s deepest fields, which took weeks.
The image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. The combined mass of this galaxy cluster acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it. Webb’s NIRCam has brought those distant galaxies into sharp focus – they have tiny, faint structures that have never been seen before, including star clusters and diffuse features. Researchers will soon begin to learn more about the galaxies’ masses, ages, histories, and compositions, as Webb seeks the earliest galaxies in the universe.
This image is among the telescope’s first-full color images. The full suite will be released Tuesday, July 12, beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT, during a live NASA TV broadcast.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).