We always knew that the James Webb Space Telescope would go on to do wonderful things. It cost in the region of $10 billion and was several years late. There’s no way NASA would sink that much time and money in a project that would produce sub-standard results.
Speaking of results, the first proper image from the James Webb telescope dropped last night. It was unveiled by the American president. It’s even got an official title. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, we reckon the full image probably justifies the capital letters.
James Webb would be proud
There’s an iconic deep field image taken by the space stalwart, Hubble. That image took eleven days to capture and showed an impressive amount of detail. Webb’s First Deep Field, by comparison, took a little under thirteen hours to capture. The amount of detail in the image is, frankly, astounding.
The image above is of SMACS 0723, a galaxy cluster that takes up a very small section of the night sky. NASA compares it to “…a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.” But, in the image, details of thousands of galaxies are revealed. The light seen here is 4.6 billion years old, according to NASA.
You’ll also notice, in the centre of the image, the distorting effects of gravitational lensing. The cluster James Webb photographed has magnified galaxies behind this cluster, offering more detail than ever seen before. This is the sort of science the telescope will be doing. Plus, you know, looking at the atmospheres of other planets and things like that.
There’s more to come from NASA and the crew who worked on James Webb. That was just the first image. There are a bunch more set to be revealed at 16:30 (South African time) today during a live stream. You should… probably check it out.