James Webb Space Telescope: First Images Explained
James Webb Space Telescope: First Images Explained
10:54

James Webb Space Telescope: First Images Explained

Space
Speaker 1: NASA's new space telescope can see through time. And we just got our first images from billions of years ago. These are the very first images captured by the James web space telescope. The deepest we've seen into the universe with alien planets, far off galaxies and the birth and death of distance stars. But this is just the start I'm Claire Riley and I'm CNET resident space nerd. In this video, I'm gonna break down everything [00:00:30] you need to know about the James web space telescope from those first images to how it uses infrared light to see the past and what it could teach us about the universe Speaker 1: On the 12th of July NASA released the first five images from the James web space telescope showing us the deepest and most detailed look into our universe ever. The first big reveal was web's first deep field, an image of thousands of galaxies, 4.6 billion [00:01:00] light years away. This is the furthest into our universe we've ever seen. And all that detail is in an area of sky. As big as a grain of sand. Next up, we saw science data spectroscopy from an exo planet captured when it passed in front of a distance star. This data shows us evidence of water on an alien planet, a thousand light years away. Our third image was the stunning Southern ring Nebula, a dying star 2,500 light years away captured [00:01:30] by two instruments on the telescope near cam and Mary. It shows shells of gas and dust ejected from a dying star. Next was a group of five galaxies called Stephan's Quinte. This is web's largest image yet with more than 150 million pixels showing us what Issa calls a cosmic dance of galaxies stars being born and even outflows from a black hole. And finally the most phenomenal image of them, all the cosmic [00:02:00] cliffs of the Corrina Nebula. Speaker 2: This stunning Vista reveals new details about this vast stellar nursery today. For the first time we're seeing brand new stars that were previously completely hidden from our view. In this view, we see some great examples. First of all, of hundreds of new stars that we've never seen before. We see examples of bubbles and cavities and jets that are being blown out by these newborn stars. We even see [00:02:30] some galaxy sort of lurking in the background up here. We see examples of structures that honestly, we don't even know what they are like. What's going on here. There's just there's. The data is just so rich. Speaker 1: These spectacular images really represent the Dawn of a new scientific era, one powered by the world's most powerful telescope. So what is the James webspace telescope? Well, it's essentially a big observatory [00:03:00] orbiting the sun, a million miles away from earth that examines space through infrared light. After decades of development by NASA's Godard space flight center, the Canadian space agency and the European space agency. It was launched from French Guiana on Christmas day in 2021, Speaker 3: Lift off Speaker 4: Liftoff. Speaker 1: It's on a decade's long mission to look at our whole universe. Speaker 5: This telescope was really initially designed to be able to look back [00:03:30] in time and see the very first galaxies that were born after the big bang. So we're talking about looking back in time over 13 and a half billion years into the past. So it'll study how galaxies change over the course of cosmic history. We'll learn more about how stars and planets are born. We'll learn about exoplanets, planets, orbiting other stars. And then also we'll learn about objects within our own solar system. So this amazing new telescope is really gonna be able to study our universe from [00:04:00] our sort of own cosmic backyard of the solar system all the way out to the most distant objects in the universe and everything in space and time in between Speaker 1: The telescope orbits with earth around the sun, in a fixed position on the dark side of our planet, staying away from the sun is very important for its mission. Its sensitive instruments are on the hunt for infrared light, which is essentially heat energy. That's the reason behind that massive diamond [00:04:30] shaped sun shield, which is the size of a tennis court. The telescope collects infrared light from space using its huge honeycomb shaped mirror, which is covered in actual gold. So why infrared light? Well, infrared is the key to seeing distant parts of our universe. And that's because of the way those light waves travel through space. Speaker 5: The fact that the universe is expanding all the time and accelerating and as light travels through space, [00:05:00] that expansion of the universe literally stretches the light waves and light waves that are longer in length, stretched out our redder. And so the most deseg galaxies, the one we've the ones we've never seen at all. They're so far away, their light has been stretched so much that it no longer appears in the optical at all. It's all in the infrared. Speaker 1: So to see into deep space, we need to observe those infrared light waves and the light waves [00:05:30] that James Webb can see have traveled a long way from 13.6 billion light years away to be exact in deep, deep space. And this is where it starts to get very cool because the universe is so large by the time this light reaches us from that distance it's taken billions of years to get here. So when we see light from that far away, we're actually seeing 13.6 billion [00:06:00] years into the past. Speaker 5: Us astronomers often say that telescopes are time machines and that's actually literally true. We're able to see into the past with telescopes and the reason for that sounds very dramatic and sci-fi, but it's actually based on the very simple fact that light takes time to travel through space in the same sense, light from the sun takes about eight minutes to get to the earth. So you're seeing the sun as it was about eight minutes ago. And it's because of this [00:06:30] simple nature of the way light works that we're able to look back in time and see how the universe was in the distant past. And by that we're able to sort of put together a story of how the universe has changed over the last 14 billion years of cosmic history. Speaker 1: So how does this telescope time machine actually capture this ancient light? Well, the primary way is with the near infrared camera or near cam built by Lockheed Martin space in Silicon valley. [00:07:00] It's like any other camera except it's way more complex. And it sees invisible light. Speaker 6: The whole optics to collect that light is, is quite a bit of departure from a little lens that we would have on a regular camera. It's really more based on lenses that left the light through and then modify the light in a particular way near cam has a number of different filters. So it really doesn't look just when we say infrared, it's not just one wavelength, it is a range. So we have a number of filters that allow you to look at the different regions of this [00:07:30] spectrum. Then you can extract even more information than just a simple image. Speaker 1: One of the big benefits of measuring infrared light is that near cam can see through clouds of dust in space, things that would normally block visible light from reaching us. And that helps scientists find whole galaxies that might otherwise be hidden. We saw that with James Webb's predecessor, the Hubble space telescope, and now we'll be able to see even more near cam can also do. What's known as [00:08:00] pornography, essentially blocking light from bright stars to get a better view of the planet's orbiting them. And it can measure the way light from stars passes through the atmospheres of alien planets. All of this could potentially help us find habitable planets Speaker 6: Pornography is, is all about what's the composition of these planets what's what's in their atmosphere potentially. Can we find carbon or water traces and so on which you don't prove that there's life, but these are the building blocks for life. Speaker 1: [00:08:30] There are three other instruments alongside, near cam on the telescope. Mary captures longer wavelengths of infrared light. Then there's near spec, which has tiny mechanical shutters that open and close to collect data on things like the temperature composition and mass of distant objects. Finally, there's nearest and the fine guidance sensor, nearest observes planets around bright stars by diffusing the light of the stars over a lot of pixels while the fine guidance sensor keeps web perfectly [00:09:00] steady in space. So the big question is why is the James web space telescope such a game changer? Well, unlike Hubble JWST can see further and dig deeper into the origins of space. Its light collecting mirror is six and a half meters wide compared to Hub's two and a half meters. All that light collecting power means it can look further back in time seeing fainter and more distant objects, capturing more data and taking [00:09:30] us closer to the very origins of our universe as for what's next. Well, the first batch of images took just five days to capture and NASA says the telescope could have enough fuel to last for 20 years. So this is just the beginning. We can expect more discoveries, more unknown galaxies and more beautiful images letting us peer deeper into the universe and learn more about the very Dawn of time. Speaker 5: [00:10:00] This first look data that we're getting shows us the power of this incredible instrument in terms of, of really our next big step in our search for life in the universe. But for me as a scientist, I think the most exciting thing about this awesome new telescope is this idea that there are surprises out there in the universe Speaker 1: To say that this is a pivotal moment in the history of science is an absolute understatement, but let me know what you think. What [00:10:30] was your reaction to those first images from the James webspace telescope and what are you most excited to see next? Let me know when the comments below and while you're here, make sure you throw us alike, subscribe to the channel. I got plenty, more space videos for you, including a great video on the history of James Webb and how we got to this moment. See you next time.

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