The new James Webb Telescope took the first picture of the universe. US President Joe Biden last night shared the observatory’s first color image from space. The US space agencies (NASA), Europe (ESA) and Canada (CISA) released the other images on Tuesday.
The image shows thousands of galaxies from which you can look back in time 13 billion years, according to NASA. “This is a historic day,” Biden said. He called the telescope’s image and work “a new view of our universe.” This offers unprecedented possibilities. We can visit places no one has ever seen.”
James Webb was launched on Christmas Day. It is the successor to the famous Hubble Space Telescope, which is nearing its end. At the end of January, after about a month of flying, James Webb arrived at his workplace 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. After getting there, all the systems were tested and the devices on board were cooled, so that the temperature of one of them reaches minus 266 degrees. Mirrors have also been modified. They collect the light that comes from the universe and send it to the measuring instruments.
James Webb has eighteen hexagonal mirrors that sit together, but can move independently of each other to focus. The mirror is made of beryllium, with a small 100-nanometer-thick layer of gold on top. This is a thousand times thinner than a human hair or paper. Beryllium is light, strong and can withstand extreme cold. Gold ensures that the mirror can better see infrared light.
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Now that the first pictures have been taken, the preparatory work has been completed and the scientific research for which James Webb was built has begun. Among other things, James Webb has to search for planets where life might be possible, distant galaxies and traces of the Big Bang. Can see a billion years in the past time more than Hubble.
The US-European-Canadian project will cost approximately 8 billion euros. From the Netherlands, Leiden University and research institute TNO are involved in the mission, among others.
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