NASA’s Webb Telescope captures new views of stars, galaxies and the early universe

NASA's Webb Telescope captures new views of stars, galaxies and the early universe

NASA’s James Webb House Telescope has simply opened its eyes and the universe is new, extra mysterious, extra lovely than humanity’s desires. The most important telescope ever flown was launched into deep area on Christmas Day 2021. Its main mission is to disclose the “let there be gentle” second, when the stars and galaxies lit up for the primary time because the large bang. We not too long ago took a take a look at some charming photographs as Webb delves into the origin of all of it.

That is certainly one of Webb’s first deep dives into the cosmos: 250 hours of imagination-expanding displays.

Scott Pelley: And all these dots are stars?

Brant Robertson: All of those dots are galaxies, a few of that are larger than ours.

Astrophysicist Brant Robertson has despatched us flying by means of 130,000 galaxies, half by no means seen earlier than, big swirls of billions of stars every, some like our personal Milky Manner, and a few, properly, out of this world.

Brant Robertson: We name this galaxy within the heart of the display the Cosmic Rose. Simply by likelihood, it appears to be like like a rose. You possibly can see that dusty purple irregular galaxy.

Scott Pelley talks with Brant Robertson concerning the discoveries of the Webb telescope

60 minutes

Brant Robertson: You already know, area is extra crowded than you would possibly assume, and galaxies truly find yourself interacting with one another. They’ll truly mix collectively. So, I am now zooming in on a pair of galaxies which can be merging collectively, interacting. You possibly can see that they’re disturbed, as a result of one galaxy’s gravity pulls the celebrities away from the opposite galaxy.

Scott Pelley: They’re assembly.

Brant Robertson: They’re assembly.

Robertson, of the College of California, Santa Cruz, helps lead Webb’s most formidable mission, the superior deep extragalactic investigation.

Brant Robertson: Effectively, we have found the farthest galaxy within the universe, the furthest from us that we’re at the moment conscious of. I would wish to share it with you. Can I present you some pictures?

Scott Pelley: Please. I wish to see it.

Brant Robertson: In order we zoom in we go on, we go on, and now this purple blur that you simply see there, that galaxy, that is a galaxy. That galaxy is greater than 33 billion gentle years away.

Scott Pelley: How lengthy after the Huge Bang, the start of the universe, did this galaxy type?

Brant Robertson: It is wonderful. Solely 320 million years have handed because the Huge Bang.

The farthest galaxy thus far, proper there, does not appear to be a lot, however astronomers can fill textbooks by analyzing the spectrum of its gentle.

Brant Robertson: So we are able to truly measure issues like how briskly it is forming stars. We will measure the quantity of stars within the galaxy. We all know the scale, as a result of we all know how far it’s. And we all know the everyday age of stars within the galaxy. So, we all know rather a lot.

The primary galaxy but, fashioned when the universe was 2% of its present age. And the little galaxy ignited the celebrities at a livid tempo.

Brant Robertson: It is like a hummingbird. You already know, the heartbeat of this galaxy is so fast.

Scott Pelley: What do you imply by that?

Brant Robertson: Effectively, this galaxy is forming stars at concerning the pace of the Milky Manner, though it is 100 occasions much less large. So it is actually like a hummingbird, the heartbeat of this galaxy is quickening.

James Webb House Telescope

NASA, SkyWorks Digital, Northrop Grumman, STScI

Various human hearts have been racing in 2021 just like the $10 billion observatory prepared for launch.

Earlier that yr we have been among the many final to see Webb in California earlier than he was folded right into a 15-foot-wide nostril.

Scott Pelley: Effectively, one way or the other, it is rather a lot larger than I imagined.

After twenty-five years of labor, Webb is known as after certainly one of NASA’s first directors. Northrop Grumman engineer Amy Lo confirmed us, under, the silver sunscreen, the scale of a tennis courtroom, and 21 ft of golden mirrors to gather the sunshine.

Scott Pelley: There are 18 of those hexagonal mirrors. However while you fold them, do all of them work collectively like a mirror?

Amy Lo: Precisely. All 18 photographs will type a really good and stable picture.

Webb launched on a European rocket into an orbit across the solar, one million miles away. To organize for the observations, the engineers used a star to align these mirrors. However the picture was speckled with what gave the impression to be digital noise artifacts, forcing a more in-depth look.

Carina Nebula


Matt Mountain: These weren’t detector artifacts. These weren’t bizarre stars. The entire sky was stuffed with galaxies. There was no empty sky. And that is once I mentioned, “This telescope goes to be phenomenal.”

Matt Mountain leads Webb’s operations as president of the Affiliation of Astronomy Analysis Universities.

Scott Pelley: No empty skies? What do you imply by this?

Matt Mountain: In virtually all the photographs we’re taking pictures now, we see galaxies all over the place. I imply, we took a easy image of a planet in our system, Neptune. You already know, there was this lovely sphere proper there and we noticed rings. Within the background are the galaxies once more. It tells us that our universe is filled with galaxies. We knew this theoretically, however while you exit into the night time sky, we’re used to saying, “Effectively, take a look at the night time sky, we see these stars.” We will not inform. Now now we have to say, “Have a look at the night time sky, and there are galaxies all over the place.”

Scott Pelley: We name it area as a result of we thought there was nothing on the market.

Matt Mountain: There isn’t a empty sky with James Webb. That is what we found.

Matt Mountain says Webb is a reminder of how a lot we do not know. For instance, galaxies are shifting away from one another at ever-increasing speeds, defying gravity. It doesn’t make sense. So the scientists deduce that there have to be invisible components at work. They name them darkish vitality and darkish matter.

Matt Mountain: And everytime you hear the time period “darkish vitality” or “darkish matter,” it means we do not know what it’s. We’re not that imaginative. However it’s a power, it is 95% of our universe. And we do not know what it’s.

Scott Pelley: Wait a minute, 95% of our universe is made up of darkish vitality and darkish matter and we do not know what it’s?

Matt Mountain: Precisely. We’re fortunate if right this moment we perceive even 4% of our universe. Astronomy is a really humbling self-discipline.

Humiliating however, with Webb…

…even thrilling.

That is Purdue College astronomer Dan Milisavljevic starstruck, chatting with a colleague.

Even Wilbur, who is not an astronomer, strained to see what all of the fuss was about. Milisavljevic research the exploding stars that have been the furnaces that cast the primary heavy components from a cosmos of straightforward helium and hydrogen.

Dan Milisavljevic: Each time there’s a supernova explosion, it produces the uncooked supplies for all times. The iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the oxygen we breathe, (inhale) love that oxygen, all that’s produced in supernova explosions.

Scott Pelley: The late astronomer Carl Sagan mentioned, “We’re all product of star stuff.”

Dan Milisavljevic: Precisely.

Webb reveals unprecedented particulars on the coronary heart of those explosions.

Dan Milisavljevic: And that is what Webb is most delicate to for our functions, understanding what is going on on contained in the explosion that we could not see earlier than, as a result of it solely comes out in infrared gentle.

Infrared gentle is what Webb is designed to see. Like an evening imaginative and prescient digital camera, the telescope is delicate to thermal radiation, which is all that is left of the sunshine that has reached us because the daybreak of time. The issue is that infrared is invisible to the human eye.

Scott Pelley: Once you first take the Webb information, what does it appear to be?

Joe DePasquale: Primarily, it appears to be like like a clean display.

Alyssa Pagan and Joe DePasquale are astronomers and science imagers for the House Telescope Science Institute. That is what a Webb infrared picture appears to be like like till they match the data-filled darkness with the colours of marvel.

Alyssa Pagan and Joe DePasquale

60 minutes

Joe DePasquale: So we take these longer wavelengths of infrared gentle and provides them purple colours. The subsequent shorter wavelengths can be inexperienced, and due to this fact the shorter wavelengths we get from Webb are coloured blue. And so, identical to our eyes work, we take these three shade channels, mix them collectively to create the colour photographs that we see from Webb.

Amongst their favourite photographs is that this star cluster with the not-so-wonderful identify: NGC 346. Cosmic mud sculpted into ripples by the interactions between the celebrities and the Tarantula Nebula, a nursery of star start in opposition to a backdrop of galaxies.

Scott Pelley: It happens to me that you’re the primary two folks to see these photographs in human historical past.

Joe DePasquale: It is an actual honor.

Alyssa Pagan: Sure. It is an enormous honor and blows your thoughts each time.

There will likely be many mind-blowing revelations. Webb is already the primary to seek out carbon dioxide within the sky of a planet 700 gentle years away. He’ll proceed to search for planets with atmospheres that might assist life.

On the opposite finish of the time scale, astrophysicist Erica Nelson of the College of Colorado, Boulder thinks her crew might have made a discovery that she says would shatter the idea of how the early universe fashioned.

Erica Nelson: Both that is fallacious, or this can be a big breakthrough, and we expect it is an enormous breakthrough.

Extra observations are wanted, however Nelson is investigating what may very well be 5 large galaxies that seem to have fashioned too rapidly after the massive bang. If they’re confirmed, astronomy might must revise the chronology of galaxy formation.



Erica Nelson: And that is probably the most thrilling piece of this, this telescope, this wonderful instrument that we have put into area, is discovering issues that we did not count on, that we won’t clarify. As a result of which means we have to revise our understanding of the universe.

Brant Robertson, who confirmed us the primary galaxy discovered thus far by the James Webb Telescope, advised us the document for the primary will not final lengthy.

Scott Pelley: How far are you able to hint the origins of the universe?

Brant Robertson: Effectively, JWST is so phenomenal that when you spend sufficient time, you can in all probability discover any galaxy that has ever fashioned within the universe. It truly is that highly effective.

Scott Pelley: Will the historical past of astronomy be divided between earlier than and after Webb?

Matt Mountain: Sure. I believe will probably be.

Matt Mountain, who runs Webb’s operations, advised us the observatory can last as long as 25 years, maybe lengthy sufficient to know area and time and the origins of life.

Matt Mountain: We’re seeing a universe that we have by no means seen earlier than. We thought it was there, we hoped it was, however now we see it for the primary time.

Produced by: Aaron Weisz. Affiliate Producer, Ian Flickinger. Affiliate to the printed, Michelle Karim. Edited by: Michael Mongulla.

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