Webb is on a mission to peer into the early universe, seek out exoplanets and galaxies and tease out new secrets from the cosmos.
The image comes from the Fine Guidance Sensor, or FGS, an instrument with a main purpose of allowing the telescope to point precisely. Essentially, it helps Webb aim at its targets and stay on track to make observations. The FGS view of stars and galaxies is "a tantalizing glimpse at what the telescope's science instruments will reveal in the coming weeks, months, and years," NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.
The stars stand out as the objects with points radiating from them. The other bright objects are galaxies. It's the result of 72 exposures taken over 32 hours in mid-May. It represents one of the deepest images of the universe ever taken.
The Webb team described the image as "unexpected" and a "glamor shot" in a tweet on Wednesday.
The FGS snap was part of a successful test during a monthslong preparation period before Webb began to conduct science observations in earnest. "In this engineering test, the purpose was to lock onto one star and to test how well Webb could control its 'roll' -- literally, Webb's ability to roll to one side like an aircraft in flight," said NASA.
This preview is enough to get scientists and space fans alike pumped for seeing the first major image release, next week. Said Webb operations scientist Jane Rigby: "The faintest blobs in this image are exactly the types of faint galaxies that Webb will study in its first year of science operations."