THE JAMES WEBB TELESCOPE SHOWS IMAGES FROM THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO
Good morning dear readers of Tecnogalaxy, today we will talk about the analysis of the images that were captured by James Webb.
In recent weeks there has been the release of the first set of images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. This is something that scientists have been waiting for for almost 25 years. At that time, they were analyzing the first images of Hubble from the distant universe, and the details he revealed were shocking compared to anything they had seen in Earth images.
It seems that the level has been raised once again thanks to the James Webb telescope, and is destined to announce a new era for astronomy and space research. His large mirror helps him produce images two to three times sharper than Hubble’s and that go much deeper into space (meaning he can see weaker sources).
Webb can also see much redder infrared wavelengths, opening up a new view of the universe. This is particularly important for studying the early universe because of the ” cosmological redshift “, a process that refers to the stretching of light (with the expansion of the universe) as it travels through cosmic space.
It is also useful for studying fascinating sources such as planets that revolve around nearby stars and the regions where stars form.
In a preview, US President Joe Biden presented the first image of Webb’s “deep field”. This is the massive cluster of galaxies SMACS-0723 that contains thousands of galaxies clustered around a central super-bright galaxy squatting in the center.
The sharpness is surprising, especially in terms of the structure of the images with lens. Here is a magnified look at a small region compared to an image with similar exposure time from Hubble:
The enlarged images above depict a region in the deep field containing a spiral galaxy that astronomers have called “The Slug“.
James Webb is also able to perform extremely sensitive infrared spectroscopy, in which light is broken down into wavelengths to reveal the composition of an object. While Hubble is inefficient at this, Webb manages to do it well, below you will see the spectrum of the massive planet WASP 96b. Located about 1120 light-years away, this planet weighs about half the mass of Jupiter.
The falls in the spectrum reveal the presence of water vapor in the planet’s atmosphere. With spectroscopy, eventually we’ll be able to detect potential signs of life such as ozone and methane.
SEE DUST AND GAS
The image is of the Southern Ring Nebula, about 2,000 light-years away in the Milky Way. This image shows Webb’s mid-infrared capability (which is well beyond Hubble’s range again).
It is a classic example of a “planetary nebula” in which the central star has transformed into a tiny white dwarf blowing away its outer layer. This happens at a speed of about 15 kilometers per second, emitting rings of gas and dust.
The image below shows Webb’s view of nearby galaxies. Here we see a famous group of galaxies called Stefan’s Quintet, located about 290 million light years away. The five galaxies are very close. Four interact with each other and trigger an abundant star formation.
Red stripes and lumps show the location of the new star formation through the associated dust. From the image comes out the detail of the distribution of dust and tug of war that takes place between galaxies. And the mid-infrared reveals light from a supermassive black hole in the center of the upper galaxy.
What also stands out is the vast sea of distant galaxies in the background. This is because infrared light passes through the dust. Webb’s infrared detection capabilities are so sensitive that it will see through objects within our galaxy.
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