Cosmos becomes a bit clearer with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope | Nation

 Cosmos becomes a bit clearer with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope |  Nation

For San Francisco’s sidewalk astronomer Brian Castroand millions of other space enthusiasts and contemplators of the cosmos, this week is the culmination of a decade of anticipation.

NASA is releasing the first full-color images and spectroscopic data from their ground-breaking James Webb Space Telescope on July 11 and 12.

The first image from the telescope to be made public was revealed by President Biden at the White House yesterday afternoon, a monumental international moment that was live streamed on NASA TV on the agency’s YouTube channel. The image, a snapshot of the SMACS 0723 galaxy cluster, has simultaneously been made available for public viewing on NASA’s website.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” teased the James Webb Space Telescope program director, Gregory Robinson leading up to NASA’s unveiling.

Today, NASA began releasing the remainder of the data and images selected for public viewing at 7:30 am PST.

Direct from America’s space program to YouTube, watch NASA TV live streaming here to get the latest from our exploration of the universe and learn how we discover our home planet.

“I’ve only been waiting 10 years!” says Castro, who’s excitement first flared when he watched a vlogbrothers Youtube video about the telescope in 2011. As the caption of that video very aptly explains, this is one cool space camera.

“The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to the Hubble’s throne,” the caption reads.

“The JWST has to be a million miles from the earth, protected by a six-layer heat shield as big as a tennis court. This will allow the Webb Telescope to peer into the deepest reaches of space, through clouds of dust into stellar nurseries and back in time 13.4 billion years. Not only will we get the most detailed views of our universe ever, but the JWST will provide insights into how solar systems, galaxies, stars and even the Universe were formed.”

The telescope, launched on Christmas day of 2021, is using ten new technologies to detect far-off infrared light, according to NASA. It’s been crafted by over 20,000 engineers, astronomers, technicians and the like over three decades — and billions of dollars. All in search of answers to the questions that have poked at mankind since the inception of self-awareness, questions broached by theologians, philosophers and scientists alike. How do we fit into the yawning void of the cosmos?

“I’m curious as to if the photos will be something that everyone can look at and think “WOW!” or if it will be (like much in astronomy) something that looks like a blob and if you know what the blob it is and why it’s there, then it’s a “WOW” (Like the first Black Hole picture a few years back), ” Castro wrote to the Examiner in an email preceding the first images.

Biden’s reveal, in tandem with the additional images revealed in a live broadcast from NASA today, will highlight five targets selected by an international committee of representatives from NASA, the European Space Agency, the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Canadian Space Agency.

The Carina Nebula is one of the sky’s best and brightest. WASP-96b is a gassy planet outside of our solar system. The Southern Ring Nebula is a cloudy mass encompassing of a dying star. Stephen’s Quintet, a member of the Pegasus constellation, is a dance of close encounters amid a cluster of galaxies. SMACS 0723 is a web of galaxies far, far away.

“One of the ones that will almost certainly look boring but could be very very cool is WASP-96 b,” Castro ventures.

WASP-96b was the second target featured in NASA’s reveals. The agency opted to highlight data detailing the atmospheric composition of the hot gas giant exoplanet.

“The JWST could determine the chemical makeup of the atmosphere, which would more or less just be a graph, not a pretty photo — but it could tell us a remarkable amount about a planet orbiting a star over 1000 light years away!”

Webb’s ability to analyze atmospheres and capture distant light-years is unprecedented. These insights could allow astronomers to determine the atmospheres of ever-distant planets, allowing us to potentially discover Earth-like atmospheres on other space orbs.

Next released was Webb’s image of the Southern Ring Nebula, in mid-infrared wavelengths. The scene captured in this shot depicts a key moment in the life cycle of the star — the dust ejected from dying stars, extended out thousands of years in a stunning expression of demise.


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