Images from the James Webb Telescope unveiled in the next few minutes


James Webb Telescope images to be unveiled in the next few minutes

The deepest image taken of the Universe to date was presented by US President Joe Biden on Monday.

The first collection of data from the James Webb Space Telescope will be presented on Tuesday morning by NASA and its partners, the European (ESA) and Canadian (CSA) space agencies.

Images Unveiled from 10:30 a.m. will be those of the Carina Nebula and the Southern Ring, as well as that of Stephan's Quintet, a group of galaxies. The very first spectroscopy of the telescope, that of the exoplanet WASP-96 b, will also be made public.

This technique makes it possible to determine the spectrum of a celestial object which contains information on the chemical and molecular elements of its atmosphere. It could also make it possible to understand how the planet was formed, but also to know if it shelters elements revealing the presence of life.

A first image, the deepest taken of the Universe to date, was presented Monday by US President Joe Biden. It shows in unparalleled detail galaxies formed a few hundred million years after the big bang, more than 13 billion years ago.

Enlarge image

The galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as seen by Webb (left) and Hubble ( on the right).

This first Webb deep field was obtained using the gravitational lensing technique which, like a giant cosmic magnifying glass, allows you to see behind the galactic cluster SMACS 0723 and magnify the galaxies that close in. #x27;there.

The cluster appears as it was 4.6 billion years ago, but the lens allows you to see behind it thousands of much older galaxies, including fainter celestial objects that have never been observed.

In the next few years, astrophysicists will analyze this image to to better understand their mass, age and composition.

The size of this image is roughly equivalent to observing a grain of sand held at arm's length.

The James Webb Telescope was launched on December 25 from French Guiana. It is able to look further into the Universe than all other telescopes thanks to its huge main mirror and its four instruments that perceive infrared signals, which allow it to pierce through clouds of dust.

It reached its workplace 1.5 million kilometers from Earth in January and its scientific structures and instruments are now deployed, calibrated and tested.

The publication of these results marks the transition between the commissioning phase of the telescope and the start of its scientific mission. During the first five months of the mission, the James Webb instruments will be used exclusively by the teams associated with the thirteen initial observing programs which were selected following a competition based on their scientific interest in astronomy research.

Several Canadian and Quebec scientists participate in these programs.

Canada provides two of the four mission-essential instruments Webb: NIRISS (for Near Infrared Slitless Imager and Spectrograph) and FGS (Precision Guidance Detector).

NIRISS collected some of the data that was shared at the press conference, along with the US NIRCam, the mission's primary imager.

NIRISS has capabilities to specialized imagery for studying the atmospheres of exoplanets and very distant galaxies, notes Nathalie Ouellette, scientist in charge of communications for James Webb in Canada and coordinator of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx).

As for the FGS, its work is also at the heart of the announcements, and all those that will follow, since it is the guiding detector that allows the telescope to point an object and to carry out the observations with stability and precision.

“The fact that this is a Canadian instrument is a source of great pride for us. »

— Nathalie Ouellette


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