Science

James Webb Space Telescope captures cosmic cliffs, dancing galaxies

NASA on Tuesday unveiled new images and photo illustrations from its new powerful space telescope, including a foamy blue and orange shot of a dying star.

NASA has now released 5 images from the powerful, $10 billion US telescope

NASA telescope captures spectacular images from deep in the cosmos

5 months ago
Duration 3:06
NASA has released its first set of full-colour images from the James Webb Space Telescope, a series of stunning visuals that scientists say mark the start of a new era in astronomy.

NASA on Tuesday unveiled a new batch of images from its new powerful space telescope and photo illustrations, including a foamy blue and orange shot of a dying star.

The first image from the $10 billion US James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was released Monday at the White House — a jumble of distant galaxies that went deeper into the cosmos than humanity has ever seen.

The additional photos released Tuesday included more cosmic beauty shots.

Southern Ring Nebula

This image released by NASA on Tuesday shows the Southern Ring Nebula for the first time in mid-infrared light. It is a hot, dense white dwarf star, according to NASA. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)

The Southern Ring Nebula, which is sometimes called "eight-burst." It is about 2,500 light-years away and the image shows an expanding cloud of gas surrounding a dying star.

This image released by NASA on Tuesday shows the bright star at the center of NGC 3132 for the first time in near-infrared light. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI )

Carina Nebula

A nebula as seen through the telescope.
This image released by NASA on Tuesday combined the capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope's two cameras to create a never-before-seen view of a star-forming region in the Carina Nebula. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI )

Carina Nebula, one of the bright stellar nurseries in the sky, is seen in the above photo. It is about 7,600 light-years away.

Stephan's Quintet

This image provided by NASA on Tuesday shows Stephan's Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies captured by the Webb Telescope's Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). (NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI )

In the above image of Stephan's Quintet, five galaxies are in a cosmic dance, 290 million light-years away. Stephan's Quintet was first seen 225 years ago in the constellation Pegasus. 

An enormous mosaic of Stephan’s Quintet is the largest image to date from the James Webb Space Telescope, covering about one-fifth of the moon’s diameter. It contains more than 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files. The visual grouping of five galaxies was captured by JWST's near-infrared camera (NIRCam) and mid-infrared instrument (MIRI). ( NASA, European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency, Space Telescope Science Institute)

WASP-96b

The James Webb Space Telescope captured this light curve of the brightness of WASP-96 b’s parent star over time. As the planet transits the star’s disk, its light dims. Though aspects of WASP-96 b were known, Webb data adds more detail to existing measurements. (NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI)

The telescope was able to captured this light curve of the brightness of WASP-96 b parent star over time. Though aspects of WASP-96 b were known, Webb data adds more detail to existing measurements, NASA said. 

The James Webb Space Telescope’s detailed observation of this hot, puffy planet outside our solar system reveals the clear signature of water, along with evidence of haze and clouds that previous studies of this planet did not detect. With Webb’s first detection of water in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, it will now set out to study hundreds of other systems to understand what other planetary atmospheres are made of. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)

The latest images showed parts of the universe seen by other telescopes. But Webb's sheer power, distant location off Earth and use of the infrared light spectrum showed them in new light.

"Every image is a new discovery and each will give humanity a view of the humanity that we've never seen before," NASA administrator Bill Nelson said Tuesday, rhapsodizing over images showing "the formation of stars, devouring black holes."

Webb's use of the infrared light spectrum allows the telescope to see through the cosmic dust and "see light from faraway light from the corners of the universe," he said.

"We've really changed the understanding of our universe," said European Space Agency director general Josef Aschbacher.

The European and Canadian space agencies joined NASA in building the powerful telescope.

The images were released one-by-one at an event at NASA's Goddard Space Center that included cheerleaders with pompoms the colour of the telescope's golden mirrors.

On Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled the first image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. (NASA)

The world's biggest and most powerful space telescope rocketed away last December from French Guiana in South America. It reached its lookout point 1.6 million kilometres from Earth in January.

Then the lengthy process began to align the mirrors, get the infrared detectors cold enough to operate and calibrate the science instruments, all protected by a sunshade the size of a tennis court that keeps the telescope cool.

Webb is considered the successor to the highly successful, but aging Hubble Space Telescope.

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