James Webb Space Telescope opens its eyes on the Universe
July 11, 2022 / 10:59 AM
Sharjah24 - AFP:The James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful ever sent into orbit, is set Tuesday to unveil breathtaking new views of the Universe with a clarity that's never been seen before.
Distant galaxies, bright nebulae and a faraway giant gas planet are among the observatory's first targets, US space agency NASA said Friday.
But the images themselves have been jealously guarded to build suspense ahead of the big reveal.
"I'm looking very much forward to not having to keep these secrets anymore, that will be a great relief," Klaus Pontoppidan, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STSI) that oversees Webb, told AFP.
NASA chief Bill Nelson has promised the "deepest image of our Universe that has ever been taken."
Webb's infrared capabilities are what make it uniquely powerful -- allowing it to both pierce through cosmic dust clouds and detect light from the earliest stars, which has been stretched into infrared wavelengths as the Universe expanded.
This lets it peer further back in time than any previous telescope, to the period shortly after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago.
"When I first saw the images... I suddenly learned three things about the Universe that I didn't know before," Dan Coe, an STSI astronomer and expert on the early Universe, told AFP. "It's totally blown my mind."