Nebulae and stars … The James Webb Telescope reveals extraordinary images of the universe

The space telescope, which was commissioned in December 2021, has revealed extraordinary new snapshots of the universe.

A breathtaking sight, thousands of light years away. NASA on Tuesday unveiled the first images of the most powerful space telescope ever built, the James Webb, marking the start of its science operations, which astronomers around the world have been waiting for for years.

“Every image is a new discovery,” NASA chief Bill Nelson said at the opening from Goddard Space Center near Washington, where a crowd of American and European officials and scientists gathered for the event.

Each offers a “vision of the universe for humanity that we have not seen before”.

• a dying star

The first nebula has been detected, the planetary nebula of the Southern Ring. It is a huge cloud of gas in the middle of which we can observe a dying star captured by two telescope instruments.

“We can see his death very well, it has just started to explode and dust around it,” Marie-Ang Sangui explains on BFMTV.

Magazine Editor-in-Chief space and exploration These are “highly sharp, sharp images, with extraordinary detail.”

Image of a dying star inside a nebula, immortalized by the James Webb Telescope and detected by NASA on July 12, 2022.
Image of a dying star inside a nebula, immortalized by the James Webb Telescope and detected by NASA on July 12, 2022. © NASA

• A group of five galaxies

A compact group of galaxies, Stephan’s Quintet, was captured by James Webb and revealed by NASA. An extraordinary shot in which we can observe at least five galaxies, four of which interact with each other.

“These galaxies attracting each other lead to the birth of stars,” explains Marie-Ang Sangwe.

A compact group of five galaxies captured by the James Webb Telescope.
A compact group of five galaxies captured by the James Webb Telescope. © NASA

Star-forming nebula

The telescope also captured the Carina Nebula, which is located about 7,600 light-years away, showing star formation. It is home to many massive bodies, several times the size of our Sun.

The shot shows hundreds of them never seen before, but also galaxies in the background, structures we don’t even know what they are yet.

The Carina Nebula captured by the James Webb Space Telescope.
The Carina Nebula captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. © NASA

• Analysis of the atmosphere of a planet outside the solar system

The last cosmic object observed on Tuesday was an exoplanet, that is, a planet orbiting a star other than our sun, which is one of the main lines of James Webb’s research.

Exoplanet WASP-96 b, a giant planet composed primarily of gas, analyzed by spectroscopy.
Exoplanet WASP-96 b, a giant planet composed primarily of gas, analyzed by spectroscopy. © NASA

It was not actually photographed, but analyzed by spectroscopy, a technique used to determine the chemical composition of a distant object. In this case, WASP-96 b, a giant planet composed primarily of gas.

James Webb was launched into space about six months ago, and is 1.5 million kilometers away. One of the main missions of the space telescope, a $10 billion engineering gem and the most powerful ever designed, is indeed to explore the very young universe. The aim of this first demo was to give an overview of its capabilities in this field.

Hugo Garnier with AFP BFMTV journalist

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