NASA debuted a series of unforgettable images of the cosmos captured by the James Webb Space Telescope, and its results are nothing short of a celestial celebration.
On Tuesday morning, NASA rolled out the images thanks to the capabilities of the largest space observatory. Now, viewers can see a series of cosmological images once elusive to us until now.
The powerful, billion-dollar telescope orbits around 1 million miles from Earth and will examine some of the earliest galaxies and stars in existence. As a result, scientists and everyday viewers will get a glimpse back in time billions of years ago as it takes that long for this light to reach us.
This first group of never-before-seen images includes views of some of the most distant galaxies, a giant star nursery, and cosmic clouds. It also gives us an unprecedented look into a large planet beyond our solar system.
The first image from the Webb Space Telescope that was SMACS 0723, which revealed the deepest view of space ever captured. Check out our original story on that here.
The four new images revealed on Tuesday are:
- The Carina Nebula
- A galactic cluster known as Stephan’s Quintet
- Atmospheric readings of WASP-96b
- The Southern Ring Nebula
The details behind NASA’s four new impressive images
The Carina Nebula
The instrument has captured a dramatic, awe-inspiring looking into the Carina Nebula. Nebulae are some of the most fascinating pockets of space. They act as massive dust clouds due to a nearby explosion from a star. In addition, they are also responsible for birthing new stars.
Carina Nebula is located some 7,600 light-years away, a place where giant stars have already formed.
“This landscape of ‘mountains’ and ‘valleys’ speckled with glittering stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula,” wrote NASA about the nebula. “Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth.” The tallest ‘peaks’ you see here are some seven light-years high, the agency added.
This formerly explored cluster of galaxies is nearly 290 million light-years away. However, four of them are relatively close to one another, “locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters,” said NASA in a statement.
“With its powerful infrared vision and extremely high spatial resolution, Webb shows never-before-seen details in this galaxy group,” the space organization explained. “Sparkling clusters of millions of young stars and starburst regions of fresh star birth grace the image. Sweeping tails of gas, dust and stars are being pulled from several of the galaxies due to gravitational interactions.”
Telescope discovers existence of water on far-away planet in new image
Some of the most revealing observations come from instruments known as spectrometers. With these, scientists can study distant planets’ atmospheres and gases.
The instrument looked at the gases on an exoplanet known as WASP-96 b, also known as a “hot Jupiter.” It’s a high-temperature gas giant that zooms around its star incredibly fast.
“NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured the distinct signature of water, along with evidence for clouds and haze, in the atmosphere surrounding a hot, puffy gas giant planet orbiting a distant Sun-like star,” NASA said. “The observation, which reveals the presence of specific gas molecules based on tiny decreases in the brightness of precise colors of light, is the most detailed of its kind to date, demonstrating Webb’s unprecedented ability to analyze atmospheres hundreds of light-years away.”
The Southern Ring Nebula
The Southern Ring Nebula is referred to as a “planetary nebula.” These are stunning shells of gas and dust expelled into space due to a dying star. This formerly studied planetary nebula is some 2,000 light-years from Earth.
“Some stars save the best for last,” NASA wrote. “The dimmer star at the center of this scene has been sending out rings of gas and dust for thousands of years in all directions, and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has revealed for the first time that this star is cloaked in dust.”