The first infrared image of a galaxy cluster taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
NASA states: “Released one by one, these first images from the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope will demonstrate Webb at its full power, ready to begin its mission to unfold the infrared universe.
Webb’s first-ever detailed full-colour glimpse of deep space arrived on the eve of a larger unveiling of spectrographic data and photos that NASA plans to showcase publicly today, 12 July 2022 at the Goddard Space Flight Centre in suburban Maryland.
NBC News reported that according to NASA Chief Administrator, Bill Nelson, the image showcases the galaxy cluster as it was 4.6 billion years ago. The combined mass acts as a “gravitational lens,” distorting space to greatly magnify the light coming from more distant galaxies behind it.
“This first image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail. Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time,” explains Nelson.
The thousands of galaxies were captured in a tiny patch of sky. “If you held a grain of sand on the tip of your finger at arm’s length, that is the part of the universe that you’re seeing. Just one little speck of the universe.”
Webb was constructed in collaboration with NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, and the European Space Agency. It was designed to investigate the early universe following the Big Bang in order to piece together the evolution of the modern universe.
As per PetaPixel, scientists have said that with Webb, it could be possible to unlock mysteries from as much as 100 million years after the Big Bang, ushering in a revolutionary era of astronomical discovery.
The highly awaited release of the first set of images follows six months of remotely unravelling Webb’s various components, aligning its mirrors, and calibrating instruments. With Webb now finely tuned and focused, scientists will embark on a selective list of exploratory missions across the galaxy.
Watch the unveiling: