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NASA’s James Webb telescope reveals ‘deepest’ image of our universe and earliest galaxies

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NASA’s James Webb telescope will soon reveal “the deepest image of our universe ever taken.”

The space agency made the announcement ahead of its release next month of the first pictures of the $10 billion telescope that currently sits 1.2 million kilometers directly “behind” Earth as seen from the sun.

“This is beyond humanity has ever looked, and we are just beginning to understand what Webb can and will do,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said at a live media event on Wednesday.

The telescope, which took 20 years to build, will look back to the period just after the Big Bang to unravel some mysteries about how we got here.

“We’re collecting historical data,” Nelson added.

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NASA’s James Webb Telescope is poised to unravel the mysteries of the universe when it releases its first images in a few weeks. Above: Timeline shows the metric expansion of space, including the first stars, the evolution of galaxies and planets — and dark energy

These first images are based on just 120 hours of observation over the course of five days.

It may seem strange to think of a telescope as a time machine, but that’s actually how it can function.

In space, distance is measured by how long it takes light to travel.

According to NASA, our nearest star is more than four light-years away, so when we look at that nearest star, we don’t see it as it is now, but as it was four years ago.

“One of the goals is to find the first galaxies that formed in the Universe shortly after the Big Bang,” explains Jonathan Gardner, Webb’s deputy senior project scientist at NASA Goddard. Above: Pictured image shows a front view of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, including the primary mirror of the optical telescope element, the OTE secondary mirror, the sunshade, and more

Other galaxies are much further away.

The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies is the largest nearby collection of galaxies, located about 60 million light-years from the Milky Way.

That means the light we see today from galaxies in the Virgo Cluster began its path to us at the same time that the age of the dinosaurs on Earth ended.

“There’s some amazing science in the can already, and some more yet to be taken as we go along,” Nelson said.

While NASA scientists haven’t said exactly what we’ll see when the images are released to the public, they did provide some hints.

“One of the goals is to find the first galaxies that formed in the Universe shortly after the Big Bang,” explains Jonathan Gardner, Webb’s deputy senior project scientist at NASA Goddard.

NASA also said the images will feature the very first spectrum of an exoplanet.  Pictured is the rear view of NASA's James Webb Telescope, with its solar panel, momentum flap and spacecraft bus

NASA also said the images will feature the very first spectrum of an exoplanet. Pictured is the rear view of NASA’s James Webb Telescope, with its solar panel, momentum flap and spacecraft bus

In the six months since the telescope's launch on December 25, 2021, researchers and scientists have made sure that the huge mirrors are set up correctly and that all scientific instruments are aligned and working.  Image above shows the different sizes of known space telescopes

In the six months since the telescope’s launch on December 25, 2021, researchers and scientists have made sure that the huge mirrors are set up correctly and that all scientific instruments are aligned and working. Image above shows the different sizes of known space telescopes

NASA also said the images will feature the very first spectrum of an exoplanet.

These spectra measure the amount of light emitted at certain wavelengths and can provide insight into what a planet is made up of and its formation in the history of the universe.

The space agency scientists emphasized that James Webb will produce much more data and photos in the coming months and years.

In the six months since the telescope’s launch on December 25, 2021, researchers and scientists have made sure that the huge mirrors are set up correctly and that all scientific instruments are aligned and working.

“It’s bigger than Hubble, so it can see weaker light. Those first small, faint galaxies have fused together over time to become the larger ones we know today, including our own Milky Way,’ Gardner added.

These first images are based on just 120 hours of observation over the course of five days.  Released on May 16, 2017, this NASA photo shows the primary mirror of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope in a cleanroom at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas

These first images are based on just 120 hours of observation over the course of five days. Released on May 16, 2017, this NASA photo shows the primary mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in a cleanroom at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas

“We will also see an example of how galaxies interact and grow,” said Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s primary mirror is made up of 18 hexagonal segments made from the metal beryllium and covered in gold to pick up weak infrared light

“We will also see an example of how galaxies interact and grow,” said Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute.

“But we’re just scratching the surface.”

‘In the beginning we only have a few days worth of observations. I look forward to years of observations.’

NASA will officially release the first images from the James Webb Telescope on July 12 at 10:30 a.m. EDT, and that event will be reported by the Daily Mail.

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