Since the first photos of NASA’s new James Webb debuted in July, a steady stream of breathtaking images has been released through the groundbreaking telescope.
The $10 billion James Webb telescope, which replaced the aging Hubble telescope and launched into space in December 2021, has captured distant galaxies, burning stars light-years away and a new image of Jupiter.
Here are five of the most stunning photos James Webb has captured to date.
Southern Ring Nebula
One of the most widely circulated images on the internet is of the Southern Ring Nebula, one of the first Webb images released on July 12.
Webb captured the remains of a white dwarf – the remnant of a star that has burned up all of its nuclear fuel and expelled its outer shell into a planetary nebula.
The telescope collected the images in infrared light. Compared to Hubble, the James Webb telescope can capture space in the infrared with much more power, “for never-before-seen vistas of the universe,” NASA officials wrote on the agency’s website.
NASA has released an image of the southern ring nebula in near-infrared light (NIRcam) and mid-infrared (MIRcam), the former being closer to a visible wavelength that the normal human eye can see, making the images more colorful and high-pitched. become resolution.
However, the MIRcam can pick up objects in more detail. For example, the mid-infrared image of the Southern Ring Nebula shows a clearer view of a bright star, glittering in the background just beyond the white dwarf.
Another popular view is the Cosmic Cliffs, the edge of a star region in the making that NASA compared to “craggy mountains on a moonlit night.”
The young star-forming region called NGC 3324 is more than 7,000 light-years away in the Carina Nebula. NASA’s photos of this place in the universe reveal a huge, gaseous cavity at the edge of NGC 3324 in a collage of orange and blue.
“The cavernous region has been carved out of the nebula by the intense ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds from extremely massive, hot, young stars that reside at the center of the bubble,” officials wrote on the website.
In NIRcam, viewers can see hundreds of stars hidden from the normal human eye, as well as countless galaxies glittering in the background.
NGC 3324 was first recorded by astronomer James Dunlop in 1826.
This August 2 image of the Cartwheel Galaxy resembles a bright red, galactic Ferris wheel in space.
The Cartwheel Galaxy formed about 400 million years ago, the result of high-speed collisions. Webb captured the formation in a “transient phase,” as images of the universe light-years away peer into the past, due to the time it takes to reach and capture them.
This spiral galaxy consists of two rings, a brighter inner ring and a colorful outer ring, according to NASA. Inside the cartwheel are spokes, or bright red streaks created by glowing, hydrocarbon-rich dust.
Webb’s latest image released this week is a beautiful depiction of Earth’s neighbor in the solar system.
A composite of three filters, the image of Jupiter reveals “nebulae swirling around the northern and southern poles” of the gaseous planetary giant.
It also highlights the Great Red Spot, a storm so large it would swallow the Earth, in a large white band around the gas giant.
Imke de Pater, professor emeritus of the University of California, Berkeley, who co-led the Jupiter observations, said the team was surprised by the details of the planet.
“We didn’t expect it to be this good,” Pater said in a statement on NASA’s blog. “It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter along with its rings, small satellites and even galaxies in one image.”
Galaxy cluster SMACS 0723
Although it looks a bit messy, this image is stunning because it shows thousands of galaxies in a distant cluster known as SMACS 0723.
This image, one of the first images released by Webb on July 12, is the telescope’s first deep-field image.
In the center of the image is a bright, white elliptical galaxy that outshines the rest, extending its pointed arms in five directions. Surrounding it are galaxies of all shapes and sizes, flooding the picture and showing how massive the universe is.
This image was a milestone, NASA wrote in July, as it showed how Webb will “enable future researchers to accurately catalog the precise compositions of early universe galaxies, ultimately extending our understanding of how galaxies evolve.” of billions of years changed and evolved, can change.”