President Biden reveals first image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

Picture provides the ‘deepest image of our universe that has ever been taken’

President Biden revealed the first image from the James Webb Telescope Monday, the deepest image of the early universe ever taken. (NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. – President Biden helped to reveal the first image from NASA’s newest James Webb Space Telescope Monday evening, providing the deepest look into space thus far.

NASA on Tuesday will also unveil more full-color images returned by the telescope, the $10 billion observatory that launched Christmas Day 2021 and now resides over 1 million miles from Earth, honing in on the great beyond.

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NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the light shown in the image gives us a glimpse at galaxies forming billions of years ago.

“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,” the NASA website said about the picture.

The agency released an engineering test image last week after seeing how well the telescope’s Fine Guidance Sensor could stay locked on to a target, according to a news release. The picture was taken over a period of eight days in early May, in a combined 32 hours of exposure.

NASA explained how one can tell the difference between galaxies and stars in the test image because of the stars’ six characteristic diffraction spikes, which appear due to the telescope’s six-sided mirrors.

So, looking past the few stars, every disk, swirl and smudge in the picture below is another galaxy that’s just as complex as our own.

“The faintest blobs in this image are exactly the types of faint galaxies that Webb will study in its first year of science operations,” said Jane Rigby, Webb’s operations scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight enter in Greenbelt, Maryland.

This Fine Guidance Sensor test image was acquired in parallel with NIRCam imaging of the star HD147980 over a period of eight days at the beginning of May. This engineering image represents a total of 32 hours of exposure time at several overlapping pointings of the Guider 2 channel. The observations were not optimized for detection of faint objects, but nevertheless the image captures extremely faint objects and is, for now, the deepest image of the infrared sky. The unfiltered wavelength response of the guider, from 0.6 to 5 micrometers, helps provide this extreme sensitivity. The image is mono-chromatic and is displayed in false color with white-yellow-orange-red representing the progression from brightest to dimmest. The bright star (at 9.3 magnitude) on the right hand edge is 2MASS 16235798+2826079. There are only a handful of stars in this image – distinguished by their diffraction spikes. The rest of the objects are thousands of faint galaxies, some in the nearby universe, but many, many more in the distant universe. (NASA, CSA, and FGS team)

Webb scientists said it is among the deepest images of the universe ever taken despite its noticeable roughness, yet NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced June 29 that the pictures being released July 12 will include the conclusive “deepest image of our universe that has ever been taken.”

Learn more on NASA’s blog by clicking here.


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About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.