The James Webb Space Telescope has successfully passed a critical milestone, NASA has revealed. The space-flying observatory is now fully developed, and there are receipts to prove it.
The Webb telescope is now in focus
After months, the US space agency has finally released several images that show Webb can take razor-sharp images of the universe with precision beyond even the wildest expectations of engineers, according to Mashable.
Test footage shows that the alignment of Webb’s four science instruments is complete and the flying observatory is currently gazing into an abyss of stars.
Scott Acton, Webb’s wavefront sensing and control scientist at Ball Aerospace, said the images profoundly changed the way they view the universe.
Acton added that they now have proof that a symphony of creation surrounds the Earth and that there are galaxies everywhere.
Have you seen this? Engineering images of sharply focused stars in everyone’s field of view #Webb the instrument demonstrates that the telescope is perfectly aligned and sharp! Let’s learn more about this picture👇 pic.twitter.com/8qFCZgr8G5
— ESA Webb Telescope (@ESA_Webb) April 30, 2022
Also read: The James Webb Telescope is now fully deployed – here are the amazing things it can see
How Webb took test footage
For the test images, Webb pointed to part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. It showed a deep, dense field of hundreds of thousands of stars, recording through the telescope’s sensors, according to DailyAdvent.
Although images from space telescopes often create colors as people’s eyes perceive them, other times they are chosen to highlight specific features. The engineers chose the scarlet palette to accentuate the contrast.
Image resolution is crisp and clear for the size of the telescope, according to a NASA blog post about the milestone achievement. Engineers will only make minor, periodic adjustments to the primary mirror segments.
The Webb Space Telescope has come a long way since its first snapshot in February, showing 18 different golden fuzzy spots representing a star.
At the time, NASA said it would have the additional calibration of the instrument to refine its capability and make the star in the galaxy look like a star. In mid-March, a new image delivered on this statement: a star in Ursa Major, crystalline and fiery red with large spikes.
Bob Cabana, NASA associate administrator and former astronaut, said that just looking at the photo, all you could see was this star. However, if you zoom in on the photo, there are galaxies behind the star that have never been seen before, and that’s what really amazes them.
Webb was a collaborative project between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. It is designed to observe some of the oldest lights in the universe.
The powerful space telescope will study a period less than 300 million years after the Big Bang, when many stars and galaxies were born.
Scientists will also use it to peer into the atmospheres of planets outside the solar system, also known as exoplanets. Findings of water and methane, for example, could be signs of habitability or biological activity in certain plants, as these are the main ingredients of life.
Astronomers predict the telescope will facilitate a golden age in our understanding of the universe, providing never-before-seen photos of space billions of light-years away.
The team is now moving forward with the final steps, called the commissioning of the scientific instrument. The process will take about two months before the space telescope is finally ready to do what it was meant to do, which is to conduct groundbreaking research.
Related Article: The James Webb Space Telescope uses a fine guiding sensor to lock onto a star for the first time
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Written by Sophie Webster
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