NASA's James Webb Space Telescope’s Images Are Here

Published on 13 Feb 2022

NASA Telescope

NASA revealed a photograph of the revolutionary James Webb Space Telescope's (JWST) initial photographs. Before JWST reached maximum capacity, the picture depicts the early phases of the telescope's 18 main mirrors connecting properly.

The photograph is a little blurry, but it's a great start in the long process of fine-tuning JWST's mirrors so that it can snap ultra-sharp photos of the distant Universe. The image's 18 spots of light represent the very same isolated star, identified as HD 84406, as seen by every primary mirror section. The light captured from each main mirror segment was reflected in Webb's secondary mirror, where it was analyzed using the Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, one of the telescope's key imaging sensors. This sensor will be utilized to detect and fix any optical faults during the telescope's alignment operation.

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The 18 photos of HD 84406 were assembled from almost 1,500 photographs taken as Webb was oriented in different directions around the star's predicted location. According to NASA, collecting the light utilized to create the visual mosaic took roughly 25 hours. After the several adjustments that the telescope will make over the months ahead, the mirror will begin to align appropriately. When all mirror segments are linked to create a seamless surface, those 18 stars will become one.

What’s Next?

JWST was ventured into space on Christmas Day after several disruptions, bringing an end to a decades-long wait. The process, however, did not end there. A few days later, the telescope began to take shape in its ultimate form after a two-week-long expanding phase. JWST's enormous sun shield, which keeps its sensors cool, was successfully deployed on January 4th. All significant deployments were completed on January 8th, with the successful unfurling of its primary mirror. JWST completed its final orbit in space on January 24th.

According to NASA, the first set of explicit photographs for scientific examination is expected in the summer. However, for the time being, the JWST team is encouraged by the findings of the telescope's initial imaging and aligning stages, which put it one step closer to producing stunning photos.

In an article, JWST project scientist Michael McElwain wrote, "Launching Webb to space was a wonderful event, but for researchers and optical engineers, this is a pinnacle moment, when light from a star successfully makes its way through the system down onto a sensor."


Featured image: NASA


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