Watch Biden and NASA unveil the first full image from the James Webb Space Telescope
NASA is about to release the first color images from its brand new space telescope, changing deep space astronomy forever.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is six times larger and 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been NASA’s primary space observatory since its launch in 1990. Astronomers expect JWST to fill a mysterious gap in the history of our universe – the first 400 million years after the Big Bang – and to identify distant worlds that may harbor extraterrestrial life.
It took more than two decades and $10 billion to build and launch JWST, but now the infrared observatory is orbiting the sun 1 million kilometers from Earth, fully unfolded and calibrated.
On Monday evening, NASA will show the world for the first time what its new eye in the sky can do. At 5 p.m. ET, President Joe Biden plans to reveal the first color image of JWST.
NASA will broadcast the announcement live from the White House on NASA TV, beginning at 5 p.m. ET. Watch it in the video embedded below:
More images will arrive on Tuesday. NASA has a handful of color images from JWST, and it plans to release them one by one, starting at 10:30 a.m. ET, also streaming on NASA TV, above.
NASA, along with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, which are collaborating on the new telescope, will discuss the images Tuesday at noon ET.
NASA did not specify which astronomical view will feature in the first JWST image on Monday evening. But the agency did Release the following list of objects captured in the first images, to be unveiled this week:
- Carina Nebula: The Carina Nebula is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky, located approximately 7,600 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina. Nebulae are stellar nurseries where stars are formed. The Carina Nebula is home to many massive stars, many times larger than the Sun.
- South Ring Nebula: The Southern Ring Nebula, or “Eight-Burst”, is a planetary nebula – an expanding cloud of gas, surrounding a dying star. It measures nearly half a light-year in diameter and is located about 2,000 light-years from Earth.
- Stephan’s Quintet: About 290 million light-years away, Stephan’s Quintet is located in the constellation Pegasus. It is notable for being the first group of compact galaxies ever discovered in 1877. Four of the quintet’s five galaxies are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters.
- SMACS 0723: Massive clusters of foreground galaxies amplify and distort light from objects behind them, allowing a deep-field view of extremely distant and inherently faint galaxy populations.
NASA also plans to release the data that JWST collected on the giant gas planet WASP-96b. The planet is located about 1,150 light-years from Earth and has about half the mass of Jupiter. This data will show JWST’s ability to analyze the entire spectrum of infrared light emitted by an object, in order to identify individual elements.
This method, called spectroscopy, should help astronomers determine what’s in the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars – invaluable information in the search for extraterrestrial life.