Webb telescope captures countless galaxies in new image
The European Space Agency released its image of the month for January and it’s (perhaps unsurprisingly) a stunning photo of the Webb Space Telescope.
At the bottom of the image is LEDA 2046648, a spiral galaxy more than a billion light-years from Earth in the constellation of Hercules. Behind LEDA is a field of more distant galaxies ranging from spiral shapes to pinpricks of light in the distant universe.
Webb launched from French Guiana in December 2021; the scientific observations of the cosmos began in July. Webb has pictured distant galaxies, exoplanets and even shed new light on worlds in our local solar system.
Although this image has only just been released, it was created during the commissioning process for one of Webb’s instruments, the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), according to an ESA release. While NIRISS focused on a white dwarf — the core remnant of a star — Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) turned its focus on LEDA 2046648 and its surroundings in the night sky.
One of Webb’s main goalss in looking at the distant universe is to better understand how the first stars and galaxies formed. To that end, the telescope is looking at some of the oldest light in the universe, primarily through its NIRCam and MIRI instruments.
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Although the image contains hundreds of light sources that our eye can perceive, the infrared data from which the image is formed sure shots many more galaxies.
from Webb deep field images is what allows scientists to see some of the oldest light in the universe, often using gravitational lensing (the magnification of light in the distance due to the gravitational distortion of spacetime) to see particularly ancient sources.
While this image of LEDA 2046648 isn’t a deep field, it evokes a similar feeling: awe at the sheer scale of the cosmos, and (if only briefly) the realization that our mind can understand only a fraction of it the.
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