Since the first images of NASA’s new James Webb debuted in July, the groundbreaking telescope has released a steady stream of stunning images.
The $10 billion James Webb Telescope, which replaced the aging Hubble telescope and launched into space in December 2021, has captured distant galaxies, hot stars light-years away, and new images of Jupiter.
Here are five of the most stunning photos James Webb has taken to date.
Southern Ring Nebula
The most widely circulated one on the Internet is the Southern Ring Nebula, one of the first Webb photos released on July 12.
Webb captured the remnants of a white dwarf — the remains of a star that burned all its nuclear fuel and expelled its outer shell into a planetary nebula.
The telescope uses infrared light to collect images. NASA officials wrote on the agency’s website that the James Webb Telescope can capture infrared space at greater power than Hubble, “providing an unprecedented view of the universe.”
NASA has released near-infrared light (NIRcam) and mid-infrared light (MIRcam) images of the Southern Ring Nebula, with the former closer to the visible wavelengths that the normal human eye can see, making its images more colorful and high-resolution.
However, MIRcam can pick up objects in more detail. For example, a mid-infrared image of the Southern Ring Nebula shows a sharper image of bright stars shimmering in the background behind the white dwarf.
Another popular image is the Cosmic Cliff, the edge of a region of forming stars that NASA likens to a “craggy mountain range in moonlight.”
The young star-forming region known as NGC 3324 is located in the Carina Nebula, more than 7,000 light-years away. NASA’s photo of this point in the universe shows a large gaseous cavity at the edge of NGC 3324 in a collage of orange and blue.
“This cavernous region is sculpted by intense ultraviolet radiation in the nebula and stellar winds from the extremely large, hot young stars located at the center of the bubble,” the official website reads.
In NIRcam, viewers can see hundreds of stars hidden from the average human eye, as well as numerous galaxies sparkling in the background.
NGC 3324 was first recorded in 1826 by astronomer James Dunlop.
This August 2 photo of the Wheel Galaxy resembles the bright red Milky Way Ferris wheel in space.
The Wheel Galaxy formed about 400 million years ago as a result of high-speed collisions. Webb captured it forming in a “transition phase,” as images of the universe light-years away are peering into the past, as it takes time to reach and record them.
According to NASA, the spiral galaxy consists of two rings, a brighter inner ring and a colorful outer ring. Inside the wheels are the spokes, or bright red streaks created by the hydrocarbon-rich glowing dust.
Webb’s latest image released this week is a gorgeous image of Earth’s neighbor in the solar system.
The image of Jupiter, made from a combination of three filters, revealed a “smog swirling around the north and south poles” of the gaseous planetary giant.
It also highlights the Great Red Spot, a storm big enough to swallow Earth in the large white belt around the gas giant.
The team was surprised by the details of the planet, said UC Berkeley professor emeritus Imke de Pater, who co-led the Jupiter observations.
“We didn’t expect it to be this good,” Pate said in a statement on NASA’s blog. “It’s amazing that we can see details of Jupiter and its rings, tiny moons and even galaxies in one image.”
Galaxy Cluster SMACS 0723
Although it looks a bit cluttered, this image is stunning because it shows thousands of galaxies in a distant star cluster called SMACS 0723.
The image, which Webb released on July 12, is the first deep-field image taken by the telescope.
At the center of the image is a bright white elliptical galaxy that outshines other galaxies, with its pointed arms extending in five directions. It’s surrounded by galaxies of all shapes and sizes, flooded with images showcasing the mass of the universe.
NASA wrote in July that the image is a landmark because it shows how Webb “will allow future researchers to fine-tune the precise composition of galaxies in the early universe, which could ultimately reshape our understanding of galaxies. understanding of how it has changed and evolved over billions of years.”