James Webb has been in space for almost a year – the most amazing pictures of the telescope at the moment

James Webb has been in space for almost a year - the most amazing pictures of the telescope at the moment

Since its launch, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been working hands-free (or rather, “eyes closed”). During almost a year of the observatory’s operation, a lot of amazing astrophotographs have accumulated: we have already published a selection of Webb’s first scientific images and compared the works with the work of his predecessor Hubble, and now we are publishing an expanded gallery.

The observatory was launched into space in December last year, and in mid-January 2022 it reached a working halo orbit around the second Lagrange point in the Sun-Earth system, and in July, after several months of instrument calibration and optics adjustment, it finally began its scientific program .

In addition to the largest mirror for exploring the outermost corners of space, Webb has four advanced scientific instruments: the NIRCam near-infrared camera, the MIRI mid-IR instrument, the NIRSpec near-IR spectrograph, and the FGS/ system. With their help, astrophysicists hope to get answers to many fundamental questions in the future, primarily about the formation of exoplanets.

James Webb’s first targets included exoplanet atmospheres, protoscopies, circumstellar disks, quasars, trans-Neptunian objects, and comets. Next, photos of the most amazing objects already recorded by the observatory’s cameras during the year of operation.

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The Keele Nebula (NGC 3372)

Galaxies, nebulae, planets - NASA published new color images obtained with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope
“Space rocks” in the Keele Nebula, located 7,200 light-years away, captured by Webb’s NIRCam instrument. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STSCI

Cart wheels

Composite image of the Wagon's Wheel galaxy obtained by the JWST NIRCam and MIRI instruments.  The massive cosmic structure is now in a transition state after colliding with another galaxy about 400 million years ago.  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, CC BY 2.0
A complex image of the Cartwheel galaxy obtained by the NIRCam and MIRI instruments. The massive cosmic structure is now in a transition state after colliding with another galaxy about 400 million years ago. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, CC BY 2.0

Stefan Quintet (HCG 092)

1669256118 320 james webb has been in space for almost a year
The mosaic, created from nearly 1,000 Webb images totaling more than 150 million pixels, shows the five galaxies of the Stefan Quintet. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

Jupiter

The first image of Jupiter, created from several Webb frames, shows the auroras at the planet’s north and south poles, caused by fluctuations in the magnetic field. An interesting fact – the auroras on Jupiter are the brightest in the Solar System. They are almost a thousand times stronger than earthly ones.

The images also clearly show the Great Red Spot – a giant atmospheric vortex at the equator of the planet, 1.3 times larger than the diameter of the Earth.

A new portrait of Jupiter by Webb's NIRCam instrument.  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, ERS Jupiter;  image processing by Ricardo Veso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt, CC BY 2.0)
New photo of Jupiter taken by the Webb telescope. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, ERS Jupiter; image processing by Ricardo Veso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt, CC BY 2.0)
Annotated portrait of Jupiter taken by Webb's NIRCam instrument.  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, ERS Jupiter;  image processing by Ricardo Veso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt, CC BY 2.0)
An annotated portrait of Jupiter made by the NIRCam instrument. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, ERS Jupiter; image processing by Ricardo Veso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt, CC BY 2.0)

Phantom Galaxy (M 74)

Image of the Phantom Galaxy (M74) taken in infrared light by the MIRI instrument.  Image: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST team, J. Schmidt, CC BY 2.0
Image of the Phantom Galaxy (M74) produced in infrared light by the MIRI instrument. Image: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST team, J. Schmidt, CC BY 2.0
Image of the Galaxy Phantom created by combining visible light observations from the Hubble Space Telescope with infrared data obtained by Webb.  Images: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST team;  ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Chandar, J. Schmidt, CC BY 2.0
An image of the Phantom Galaxy created by combining visible light observations from the Hubble Space Telescope with infrared data obtained by Webb. Images: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST team; ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Chandar, J. Schmidt, CC BY 2.0
Comparison of images of the Phantom Galaxy, showing the strengths of observatories taking images at different wavelengths.  Image: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST team, J. Schmidt, CC BY 2.0
Comparison of images of the Phantom Galaxy, showing the strengths of observatories taking images at different wavelengths. Image: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST team, J. Schmidt, CC BY 2.0

Tarantula Nebula (NGC 2070)

Webb's image of the Tarantula Nebula, also known as 30 Doradus.  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team, CC BY 2.0
Webb’s image of the Tarantula Nebula. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team, CC BY 2.0

Neptune

An image of Neptune with its clouds and thin rings (the clearest view of Neptune's rings in 30 years) taken in infrared light by the NIRCam instrument.  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, CC BY 2.0
An image of Neptune with its moons and thin rings (the clearest view of Neptune’s rings in 30 years) taken in infrared light by the NIRCam instrument. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, CC BY 2.0

Some of the rings in the photo have not been observed since Voyager 2 observed Neptune during its flyby in 1989. In addition to several bright narrow rings, Webb’s image clearly shows Neptune’s fainter dust lanes.

Webb also photographed 7 of Neptune’s 14 known moons: Galatea, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Proteus, Larissa, and Triton. Neptune’s large moon, Triton, dominates the landscape as a very bright point of light with characteristic diffraction peaks seen in many of Webb’s images.

Images of Neptune taken over the decades, culminating in a new portrait by Webb.  Image: Voyager (NASA/JPL-Caltech);  Hubble (NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) and M. H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL team;
Images of Neptune taken over the decades, culminating in a new portrait by Webb. Image: Voyager (NASA/JPL-Caltech); Hubble (NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) and M. H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL team; Webb (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, CC BY 2.0)

Galaxy IC 5332

An infrared Webb image showing the dense filaments of dust and gas that make up the web-like structure of the galaxy IC 5332. Image:
An infrared Webb image showing the dense filaments of dust and gas that make up the web-like structure of the galaxy IC 5332. Image: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J Lee and the PHANGS-JWST and PHANGS-HST teams, CC BY 2.0

Star WR 140

A fingerprint-like pattern in this Webb image of creatures from the dust debris periodically thrown up by one of the stars Wolf-Rayet 140. Image:
The fingerprint-like pattern in this Webb image is created by the dusty debris periodically ejected by one of the stars WR 140. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, JPL-Caltech, CC BY 2.0

Pillars of creation

Webb’s near-infrared image of the Pillars of Creation shows even more detail than the 2014 Hubble image, with lots of stars (especially newborns). Galaxies are not visible in the photo because the gas and dust of the interstellar medium block distant objects in such a dense region.

The most accurate image of famous people "Pillars of Creation", obtained with the Webb Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) The
The most detailed image of the famous “Pillars of Creation” obtained using the Webba Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam). The “Pillars of Creation” are located in the Eagle Nebula, approximately 6,500 light years from Earth. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI. Image manipulation: Joseph DePasquali (STScI), Anton M. Kukemoyer (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI), CC BY 2.0

Webb’s predecessor, Hubble, first photographed the “Pillars of Creation” in 1995, but at the time the technology only detected a fraction of the stars in the region. The photograph was composed of 32 separate images taken by four cameras, including wide-angle and planetary camera #2.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the launch of Hubble, a new photo of the “Pillars of Creation” was taken – larger and with higher resolution. The image was captured by wide-angle camera #3, installed on the telescope in 2009. The 2014 rework provides more detail, but the visible-light image still left the Pillars relatively opaque and obscured some of the forming stars.

Comparison of Hubble images from 2014 (left) with the new Webb image (right).  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI.  Image manipulation: Joseph DePasquali (STScI), Anton M. Kukemoyer (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI), CC BY 2.0
Comparison of the 2014 Hubble image (left) with the new Webba image (right). Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI. Image manipulation: Joseph DePasquali (STScI), Anton M. Kukemoyer (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI), CC BY 2.0
Image "Pillars of creation" in "horrible" processing, published on the eve of Halloween.  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, CC BY 2.0
A photo of the “Pillars of Creation” in a “spooky” treatment, published on the eve of Halloween. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, CC BY 2.0

Merger of galaxies

A pair of merging galaxies located about 270 million light-years from Earth, imaged by Webb's MIRI, NIRSpec, and NIRCam instruments.  Image: ESA/Webb, NASA and CSA, L. Armus and A. Evans.  Credit: R. Colombari, CC BY 2.0
A pair of “merging” galaxies located about 270 million light-years from Earth, imaged by Webb’s MIRI, NIRSpec and NIRCam instruments. Image: ESA/Webb, NASA and CSA, L. Armus and A. Evans. Credit: R. Colombari, CC BY 2.0

Stars in the Wolf-Landmark-Melott galaxy

Stars in the Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte dwarf galaxy.  Also in the background you can see orange galaxies shining behind the stars.  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI and Kristen McQueen (Rutgers University, CC BY 2.0)
Stars in the Wolf-Lundmark-Melott dwarf galaxy. Also in the background you can see orange galaxies shining behind the stars. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI and Kristen McQueen (Rutgers University, CC BY 2.0)

Galaxies from the early universe

The two galaxies recently discovered by Webb probably formed 300-400 million years after the Big Bang. They have not yet been verified by spectroscopic measurements, but the most distant one has been previously confirmed by ALMA data, the Atakami Large Millimeter Radio Telescope (LMRA).

“There have been many claims about earlier galaxies, and we’re still trying to figure out which ones might be real. We’re more confident about these two than the others,” said Garth Illingworth, researcher on the Spectroscopic Complete and Public Release IMaging program for Extragalactic Research.

The galaxies recorded by Webb appeared about 450 and 350 million years after the Big Bang (at redshifts of about 10.5 and 12.5, respectively), and future Webb spectroscopic measurements will help confirm this.  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, Tommaso Treu (UCLA), CC BY 2.0)
The galaxies recorded by Webb appeared about 450 and 350 million years after the Big Bang (at redshifts of about 10.5 and 12.5, respectively), and future Webb spectroscopic measurements will help confirm this. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, Tommaso Treu (UCLA), CC BY 2.0

Now, the extraordinary brightness of these early galaxies is forcing astronomers to reconsider their assumptions about the oldest stars. Although very bright galaxies are usually very massive, it is possible that these are not so, but simply have a lot of Population III stars.

Population III stars are still hypothetical, and the idea is that they are among the oldest stars in the universe with a different composition than the ones we know about.

Southern Ring Nebula

The Southern Ring Nebula, taken in near-infrared light.  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI
The Southern Ring Nebula, imaged in near-infrared light. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

Deep Field

The first complete image from the James Webb telescope has been published
Deep Field – a photo of a small area of ​​the sky, the first scientific image obtained with the NIRCam camera from the James Webb Telescope and presented on July 11 at Joe Biden’s briefing. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

Protostar in the “hourglass”

James Webb discovered a buried young star in the Taurus constellation.  Clouds in the star-forming region, similar in shape to sand dunes, are visible only in infrared light, making them ideal targets for Webb's NIRCam.  Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI
A young star in the Taurus constellation. The hourglass-shaped clouds in the star-forming region are visible only in infrared light, making them ideal targets for Webb’s NIRCam. Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

The object, named L1527, is believed to be a class 0 protostar – an early stage of star formation, approximately 100,000 years old. The protostar is now hidden in an hourglass-shaped cloud of dust and gas, and has yet to develop the ability to generate its own energy through nuclear fusion, like the Sun and other stars throughout the universe.

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