World News Editor
For years, traveling to space has been a technological dream. In 1969, Apollo 11 completed its mission to the moon, a first of its kind. Now, 53 years later, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is taking marvelous pictures of space, allowing us to view never before seen images of planets, galaxies, stars, and nearly everything in space. Its mission: to explore the origins of space and find the earliest galaxies.
The Webb telescope is an improved version of the long-used Hubble Space telescope. Launched into space on December 25th, 2021, the telescope cost over 10 billion dollars, with its development beginning in 2004 — over a decade ago. The telescope uses infrared technology, sending out waves to detect objects in space, be it a galaxy, star, or nebula. However, the human eye cannot see Webb images; instead, they’re filtered numerous times until NASA is able to release a colored, beautiful picture of space.
The JWST’s aims to discover space’s history. The first pictures released by the telescope were of a foreign galaxy cluster known as SMACS 0723. According to NASA, the picture, officially unveiled by President Joe Biden on July 11th, is “the deepest and sharpest infrared image” of the galaxies that are around 4.24 billion light years away. Despite the details of the image and the vast galaxies that it captures, NASA also says that the amount of space captured in it is “the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length.” Given this distance and focus of the telescope, the picture obtained by the JWST must have captured what the cluster looked like 4.6 billion years ago.
At this time, the JWST is just beginning its journey capturing the vast and endless space we live in. Over the next decade, it can, and likely will, be a useful or even revolutionary tool in understanding space and other galaxies. Be sure to keep an eye out for its impact on the future.