The James Webb Space Telescope, now fully calibrated, has taken an image of a neighbouring satellite galaxy
The James Webb Space Telescope – launched by NASA on Christmas Day, 2021 – has taken an unprecedentedly clear image of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy near the Milky Way.
The dense star field in the Large Magellanic Cloud gave the telescope a way to prove itself, by taking an MIRI test image. In a collaboration between The Canadian Space Agency, NASA and the European Space Agency, the James Webb Telescope is expected to mine useful data, which will be shared with astronomers across the world.
The new MIRI image, compared to one taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope’s Infrared Array Camera (at 8.0 microns), already shows the quality of insight that the telescope is expected to bring to astronomers.
How different is this telescope to Hubble?
The Hubble Telescope, built 30 years ago, will make way for this technically-superior successor – which is capable of seeing two or three times closer to the beginning of the universe. The James Webb Space Telescope has been designed to collected infrared light from galaxies that existed 13.8 billion years ago, a few hundred years after the big bang.
NASA aims to use the telescope to study many phases in the history of the universe, including the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets similar to Earth, as well as the evolution of the local solar system.
The mission is described by engineers as ‘unprecedented’
“NASA achieved another engineering milestone decades in the making. While the journey is not complete, I join the Webb team in breathing a little easier and imagining the future breakthroughs bound to inspire the world,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
“The James Webb Space Telescope is an unprecedented mission that is on the precipice of seeing the light from the first galaxies and discovering the mysteries of our universe. Each feat already achieved and future accomplishment is a testament to the thousands of innovators who poured their life’s passion into this mission.”