NASA engineers “step up the tension” ahead of Tuesday’s release of the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope. A list of objects in the universe that the device photographed was revealed. Among them are nebulae, a planet or a group of galaxies.
On Tuesday afternoon, Polish time, the American space agency will present the first observations carried out with the James Webb Space Telescope – a new instrument at the disposal of astronomers, called by the media the successor of the Hubble Space Telescope. The presentation is scheduled for 4.30 pm.
For now, the agency has made available a list of objects whose images and spectra will be presented first. These sites were selected by an international committee of representatives NASAThe European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).
The list includes the Carina Nebula (NGC 3372), the exoplanet WASP-96 b, the South Ring Nebula (NGC 3132, also known as the Eight Broken), the Stephan’s Quintet galaxy group, and SMACS 0723 gravitational lensing.
What exactly will we see?
The Carina Nebula is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky. It is located approximately 7,600 light-years away towards the constellation Kila. It is known to be the home of many massive stars.
WASP-96 is a giant gas planet located outside the solar system. It orbits a star 1,150 light-years from Earth, making it with a period of 3.4 days. The object is about half the mass of Jupiter, and it was discovered in 2014. In this case, NASA will present its specter.
The South Ring Nebula belongs to the category of planetary nebulae. It is a gas cloud around a dying star. This nebula is almost half a light-year in diameter, and is about 2,000 light-years away.
Stephan’s Quintet, on the other hand, is a much more distant object, 290 million light years from us. It is the first compact group of galaxies discovered by Édouard Stephan in 1877.
In the case of SMACS 0723 we deal with the phenomenon of gravitational lensing. The massive galaxy cluster magnifies and distorts the light of objects behind it, allowing you to look at extremely distant and extremely faint galaxies.
What is the James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on December 25, 2021. It has a mirror with a diameter of 6.5 meters and will conduct infrared observations. It is a project carried out by NASA, in cooperation with the space agencies ESA and CSA.
A few days ago, NASA presented a test photo that was to show a foretaste of the real possibilities of the telescope.
Main photo source: NASA GSFC / CIL / Adriana Manrique Gutierrez