From Maryland to the Great Unknown: These 5 Space Images Will Blow Your Mind

The eyes of the cosmos-obsessed world were just fixed on Maryland as Nasaafter several teasers, finally released a series of new public images taken by its James Webb Space Telescope.

The space agency created these images during a television broadcast on Tuesday morning from its Goddard Space Flight Center in the DMV Greenbelt, Maryland area. The images are the first full-color images of the telescope that NASA shared publicly in conjunction with its partners at the Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency. The images are particularly notable – and described in a NASA statement as representing “the dawn of a new era in astronomy” – because Webb relies on infrared technology that allows him to see things no other telescope can only see, at a depth hitherto unknown to astronomers.

“These images, including the deepest view of our universe that has ever been taken, show us how Webb will help uncover the answers to the questions we don’t even know how to ask yet; questions that will help us better understand our universe and humanity’s place within it,” the NASA administrator said. Bill Nelson said in a statement. (The agency frequently abbreviates the telescope’s name to “Webb”.)

The TV show, hosted by Goddard and NASA Deputy Director of Science, Dr. Michelle Lynn Thalleralso highlighted the crucial contributions of scientists at the Baltimore-based institute Space Telescope Science Institute. The institute has offices on Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus and in the Hampden neighborhood. He oversees operations of the Webb Telescope and played a key role in producing the images and spectroscopic data NASA released on Tuesday.

A pre-recorded television segment showed several researchers from the institute discussing how the images were created over roughly six years of research, as well as how they were coordinated. For example, the Webb Project astronomer Dr. Klaus Pontoppidan how a committee was created in 2016 to develop “a long list of targets for the first images” taken by Webb.

“The observatory can’t see the whole sky at one time, and that’s because you want to keep the mirror from seeing direct sunlight, to keep it cool,” he explained. “Actually, the list must have been quite long. We ended up with about 70 targets, of which we only had to select a handful. What would create the most beautiful images? What would highlight the different scientific instruments for Webb? »

“It’s also a celebration of the beginning of scientific observations,” Pontoppidan added.

Below, discover a quintet of groundbreaking images produced by Webb, NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute, as well as international collaborators:

Galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, described by NASA as “Webb’s first deep field” due to details captured by Webb’s near-infrared camera. This shows the galaxy cluster as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. (Courtesy picture)

Five galaxies appear close to each other: two in the middle, one up, one top left, and one down.

Stephan’s Quintet, a cluster of galaxies constructed from nearly 1,000 separate image files. (Courtesy picture)

The image is divided horizontally by a wavy line between a cloud forming a nebula along the bottom and a lighter upper part.

The cosmic cliffs at the edge of star forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. This was captured by Webb’s near-infrared camera and shows formerly darkened places where stars are born. (Courtesy picture)

Two views of the South Ring Nebula, with stars and layers rendered in red, light blue, teal, and orange.

Left to right: Near-infrared and mid-infrared images of the South Ring Nebula, in which a dying star has lost its outer layers and stopped burning fuel through nuclear fusion. (Courtesy photos, composed by NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI)

The graph shows the transmission spectrum with data points in front of the orange and red planet.  A curvy blue line shows a best-fit model.

A transmission spectrum from a single observation of the hot gas giant exoplanet WASP-96 b. A spectrograph created this view of starlight filtered through the planet’s atmosphere. (Courtesy image)

Space Telescope Science Institute did not return immediately Technical.ly’s request for comment Monday.

See more images here, and find out more from the telecast (which continues with a press conference through Tuesday afternoon) via NASA Youtube below:

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