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The Most Stunning Photos from the First 100 Days of the Webb Telescope

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Since NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope began observing it in July, it has changed how we see the universe.

Often described as the successor to Hubble, Webb was released on December 25, 2021, after more than two decades of development.

Since then, the $10 billion telescope has traveled more than 1 million miles from Earth and is now placed in a gravitationally stable orbit, collecting infrared light. By collecting infrared light that the human eye can’t see, Webb can cut through cosmic dust and see far away up to the first 400 million years after the Big Bang.

In his first 100 days of observation, Webb captured mind-blowing images and reached astonishing cosmic distances. Of the hundreds of observations already made, check out the six most striking photos taken by the infrared heavyweight below.

Webb captured a series of 17 concentric dust rings formed by the Wolf-Rayet 140 binary system.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, NASA-JPL, Caltech



A Webb image released Oct. 12 shows rings of dust clouds created by violent interactions between two stars 5,000 light-years from Earth. They are known collectively as the Wolf-Rayet 140 dual or WR 140. The star system contains a Wolf-Rayet star that is incredibly violent and has relatively short lifetimes.

Every eight years, when stars pass close to each other, they emit dust clouds that stretch thousands of times the distance between the Earth and the sun.

“I was surprised by what I saw in the preview images,” said Ryan Lau, principal investigator of the Webb Early Release Science program that observed the star.

“There seemed to be a strange-looking diffraction pattern, and I was worried it was a visual effect of the extreme brightness of the stars. However, as soon as I downloaded the final data I realized I wasn’t looking at a diffraction pattern, but instead the dust rings surrounding WR 140 – at least 17 of them. ‘ said Lau.

The first deep-field infrared image from the James Webb Space Telescope, released July 11, 2022.

NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI



The first full-color image NASA released from Webb on July 11 was a “deep field” image – a long-exposure observation of a region of the sky, which allows the telescope to capture the light of extremely faint, distant objects.

In it, Webb pointed his powerful infrared camera at SMACS 0723, a massive cluster of galaxies that acted as a magnifying glass for objects behind them. Lines of light are galaxies stretched by the strong gravitational force of SMACS 0723, a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. This created the telescope’s first deep-field image of incredibly old, distant, and faint galaxies.

The most distant galaxies in the photo are more than 13 billion years old and consist of oxygen, hydrogen and neon. It took less than a day to capture the image, NASA.

“The deep-field view fills me with wonder and hope,” Lisa Kaltenegger, professor of astronomy at Cornell University and director of the Carl Sagan Institute, previously told Insider.

While the image covers an area of ​​the sky you can cover by holding a grain of sand at arm’s length, it contains thousands of galaxies with the possibility of billions of Earth-like planets, according to Kaltenegger.

A scattering of hundreds of background galaxies varying in size and shape is seen next to the Neptune system in this image taken by Webb’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam).

NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI



On September 21, Webb captured the clearest images of Neptune and its elusive rings since the Voyager 2 spacecraft passed close to the planet as it exited the solar system in 1989.

Webb’s new images show a series of galaxies against an ink-black expanse alongside Neptune’s bright, methane ice clouds reflecting sunlight.

The new snapshot on the right below shows faint dusty rings around the planet that even Voyager 2’s 1989 flyby couldn’t capture. Below, on the left, is a composite of two Voyager 2 images of Neptune’s rings.

On the left is a picture of Neptune’s rings taken by Voyager 2 in 1989. On the right is a picture of Neptune’s rings taken in infrared by Webb.

NASA/JPL/ESA/STScI



“Wow, I adore these rings!” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Wrote about Webb’s Neptune images on Twitter when images are posted.

The James Webb Space Telescope shows the asteroid moon Dimorphos in Didymos’ double asteroid system about four hours after NASA’s Double Asteroid Orientation Test crashed.

NASA, ESA, CSA, Cristina Thomas (Northern Arizona University), Ian Wong (NASA-GSFC) IMAGE PROCESSING: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)



In a first-of-its-kind test to learn how to defend the planet against rogue space rocks, Webb caught NASA on September 26 when a spacecraft deliberately crashed into an asteroid. The image above shows a tail of debris formed after the collision scattered large chunks of rock and dust into space.

NASA’s 1,376-pound probe traveled nearly 6.8 million miles before crashing into Dimorphos, a small asteroid orbiting the asteroid Didymos as part of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission.

The mission successfully altered the orbit of the asteroid Dimorphos—when needed—testing NASA’s ability to deflect dangerous asteroids from their collision course with Earth.

Wide field view of Jupiter taken by Webb.

NASA, ESA, Jupiter ERS Team; Image processing by Ricardo Hueso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt



On July 27, Webb captured images of Jupiter showing the planet’s turbulent atmosphere, the gas giant’s Great Red Spot – an enormous storm that has been swirling for centuries, along with other storm systems.

The telescope also detected Jupiter’s thin rings of dust particles from debris, visible auroras at Jupiter’s north and south poles, and the planet’s two moons, Amalthea and Adrastea. The blurred spots in the background are galaxies, according to NASA.

“To be honest, we really didn’t expect it to be this good,” said Imke de Pater, a planetary scientist at the University of California at Berkeley and a pioneer in scientific observations of the planet. It’s truly remarkable that we can see the details of Jupiter, with its rings, tiny moons, and even galaxies, in a single image.”

NGC 3324, the star forming region in the Carina Nebula, imaged in infrared by Webb.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI



Webb’s image of the Carina Nebula, a collection of gas and young stars 7,600 light-years away and four times larger than the Orion Nebula, was among the first images sent by the telescope.

The Carina Nebula, called the Cosmic Abyss, is a vast region of star formation. It is home to young, extremely massive stars, including Eta Carinae, a volatile system containing two massive stars orbiting each other closely. According to NASA, the tallest of the gas and dust “mountains” seen in this image is 7 light-years high.

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