The James Webb Space Telescope just opened up a new realm of the universe

The James Webb Space Telescope just opened up a new realm of the universe

There are few things as amazing as a deep field view of the universe.

The powerfull James Webb Space Telescope just captured an unprecedented deep field view, which is an image comprising hours-long exposures of a section of the cosmos. It allows astronomers — And you – to see some of the most distant and oldest objects we can see today. Specifically, Webb took a deep look at the Pandora Cluster, home to several clusters of galaxies, revealing a rich picture of various distant galaxies, including spiral shapes similar to ours. Milky Way. There are some 50,000 objects in this space panorama.

In a way, a cosmic Pandora’s box has been opened. (Without all the mythical evils and curses, I think.)

“The ancient myth of Pandora is about human curiosity and discovery that delineates the past from the future, which I think is an apt connection to the new realms of the universe that Webb is opening up, including this deep field image of the Pandora cluster”, astronomer Rachel Bezanson of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania said in a press release(Opens in a new tab). Bezanson is the leader of a project called TO UNVEIL(Opens in a new tab) which uses Webb to take deep images of the universe and, in doing so, look back into deep time.

Almost all of these objects are galaxies. Clusters are made up of bright, hazy white galaxies. The six-pointed shining light in the foreground is a star. And some extremely distant red points of light could potentially be other things, like evidence of a beginning black hole.

Several large clusters of galaxies in the Pandora cluster.
Credit: NASA / ESA / CSA / Ivo Labbe (Swinburne) / Rachel Bezanson (University of Pittsburgh) // Image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Telescopes have captured some impressive images of Pandora’s box before, but not like this. Webb is designed to see infrared light – which is light we can’t see – but because this light travels in longer wavelengths than visible light, it can essentially slip through the dustier, gaseous clouds of the cosmos , revealing what lies beyond. Webb’s mirror is also 21 feet in diameter, more than twice the size of the The Hubble Space Telescopewhich means it can capture more light, which means more detail.

Yet it is not only Webb’s Extraordinary Abilities that make this deep field view so amazing. This is the nature of Pandora’s Cluster. Clusters create a natural “gravitational lens”, magnifying objects beyond them. All of these galaxies are extremely massive objects, as they contain hundreds of billions of stars, million black holesAnd maybe billions of planets. The combined mass of these galaxies distorts space, like a bowling ball resting on a mattress.

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This distorted space essentially creates a “lens” through which we look. So the light from the galaxies behind this galactic cluster that we (or the Webb telescope) finally see is distorted. As the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the telescope, explain(Opens in a new tab): “It’s like having a camera lens between us and the more distant galaxies.” You can observe these lensed galaxies beyond the galactic clusters: some of the reddish galaxies are stretched or distorted into arcs. These are some of the first galaxies that ever formed. It’s a spectacle made possible on your screen by the combined power of technological prowess and nature.

“My first reaction to the image was that it was so beautiful, it looked like a simulation of galaxy formation.”

“The Pandora cluster, as imagined by Webb, shows us a stronger, wider, deeper and better lens than we’ve ever seen before,” said Ivo Labbe, an astronomer at the University of technology from Swinburne in Australia, which also helped capture the image. A declaration. “My first reaction to the image was that it was so beautiful, it looked like a simulation of galaxy formation. We had to remind ourselves that this was real data, and we are now working in a new era of astronomy.”

Stay tuned. Webb, a scientific collaboration between NasaESA and the Canadian Space Agency, hasn’t even worked for a year. And it’s not just about making galaxy discoveries.

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