Are You "Marvels" Fan? Let's Explore "James Webb"
Hello Friends 👋
Do you enjoy the sci-fi genre? Ohhhh… I am talking about “The Avengers”, “X-Men” and similar kinds of stuff… It’s always fascinating to see what Marvels, Disney, Diamond Comics and others manage to showcase in their movies…
The characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Batman, BlackWidow, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Superman… The list is endless… They have all the superpowers in the world, oh sorry universe :-), but they just become part of our life. We start talking in their language, create stories, and even start dreaming about - “What if… I had those powers” - It just mesmerizes us all, no age limit… Isn’t it?
Why does it happen? - I think because we are always fascinated with supernatural stuff, aliens stories and fantasies. It’s a curiosity - the biggest gift given to humans by nature.
Recently, “James Webb” news made me more curious, and I again started dreaming about - “What if…."
What Is James Webb?
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a space telescope designed primarily to conduct infrared astronomy. As the largest optical telescope in space, its greatly improved infrared resolution and sensitivity allow it to view objects too old, distant, or faint for the Hubble Space Telescope. This is expected to enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology, such as observation of the first stars and the formation of the first galaxies, and detailed atmospheric characterization of potentially habitable exoplanets.
I am not going to talk about any technical stuff but here are some mind-boggling details about James Webb -
How far can James Webb Telescope see?
Using the JWST, we will be able to capture extremely distant galaxies as they were only 100 million years after the Big Bang – which happened around 13.8 billion years ago. So we will be able to see light from 13.7 billion years ago.
First Image By James Webb
1st Image Released on: 12-Jul-2022 ~ 10:39 AM EDT
It has been an exciting week with the release of breathtaking photos of our Universe by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Images such as the one below give us a chance to see faint distant galaxies as they were more than 13 billion years ago.
It’s the perfect time to step back and appreciate our first-class ticket to the depths of the Universe and how these images allow us to look back in time.
These images also raise interesting points about how the expansion of the Universe factors into the way we calculate distances at a cosmological scale.
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has produced the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail.
Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe is approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.
This deep field, taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totaling 12.5 hours – achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond the Hubble Space Telescope’s deepest fields, which took weeks.
The image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. The combined mass of this galaxy cluster acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it. Webb’s NIRCam has brought those distant galaxies into sharp focus – they have tiny, faint structures that have never been seen before, including star clusters and diffuse features. Researchers will soon begin to learn more about the galaxies’ masses, ages, histories, and compositions, as Webb seeks the earliest galaxies in the universe.
Modern Time Travel
Looking back in time might sound like a strange concept, but it’s what space researchers do every single day.
Our Universe is bound by the rules of physics, with one of the best-known “rules” being the speed of light. And when we talk about “light”, we’re actually referring to all the wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum, which travel at around a whopping 300,000 kilometers per second.
Light travels so fast that in our everyday lives it appears to be instantaneous. Even at these breakneck speeds, it still takes some time to travel anywhere across the cosmos.
When you look at the Moon, you actually see it as if it was 1.3 seconds ago. It’s only a tiny peek back in time, but it’s still the past. It’s the same with sunlight, except the photons (light particles) emitted from the Sun’s surface travel just over eight minutes before they finally reach Earth.
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, spans 100,000+ light-years. And the beautiful newborn stars seen in JWST’s Carina Nebula image are 7,500 light-years away. In other words, this nebula as pictured is from a time roughly 2,000 years earlier than when the first ever writing is thought to have been invented in ancient Mesopotamia.
Anytime we look away from the Earth, we’re looking back in time to how things once were. This is a superpower for astronomers because we can use light, as observed throughout time, to try to puzzle together the mystery of our universe.
What Makes JWST Spectacular?
Space-based telescopes let us see certain ranges of light that are unable to pass through Earth’s dense atmosphere. The Hubble space telescope was designed and optimised to use both ultraviolet (UV) and visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The JWST was designed to use a broad range of infrared light. And this is a key reason the JWST can see further back in time than Hubble.
Galaxies emit a range of wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum, from gamma rays to radio waves, and everything in between. All of these give us important information about the different physics occurring in a galaxy.
When galaxies are near us, their light hasn’t changed that much since being emitted, and we can probe a vast range of these wavelengths to understand what’s happening inside them.
But when galaxies are extremely far away, we no longer have that luxury. The light from the most distant galaxies, as we see it now, has been stretched to longer and redder wavelengths due to the expansion of the universe.
This means some of the light that would have been visible to our eyes when it was first emitted has since lost energy as the universe expanded. It’s now in a completely different region of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is a phenomenon called “cosmological redshift”.
And this is where the JWST really shines. The broad range of infrared wavelengths detectable by JWST allows it to see galaxies Hubble never could. Combine this capability with the JWST’s enormous mirror and superb pixel resolution, and you have the most powerful time machine in the known universe.
Wow... How does that sound? Amazing… SpaceX is trying to take us to Mars and here is James Webb… Extra-ordinary :-)
I am planning to write more about this, but probably in the next article.
More technical information and the history of the James Webb Space Telescope can be found here:
NASA - https://webb.nasa.gov/
NASA Webb Blog - https://blogs.nasa.gov/webb/
If you want to share anything or have any suggestions/questions, please leave them in the comments!
That’s it for today :-)
I hope each of you has a great start to your day. I’ll talk to everyone tomorrow.
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