James Webb Space Telescope Images Live Updates: Cosmic Cliffs and the Turbulent Birthplace of Stars
James Webb Space Telescope First live image of space: NASA has unveiled three more images of space taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has revealed three more images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope along with data on the atmosphere of a distant planet. The first previously revealed image showed the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723. Webb’s first deep field is composed of different images taken at different wavelengths. It was produced using images taken with the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam).
NASA then revealed images of the following targets: the Carina Nebula, WASP-96 b (spectral data), the Southern Ring Nebula, and Stephen’s Quintet. Live streaming is available here. High-resolution versions of the image are currently available on the NASA website. WASP-96B spectral data revealed the presence of water vapour on a distant exoplanet for the first time.
An image of the Southern Ring Nebula captured the “final show” of a dying star. Stephan’s Quintet image sheds new light on the evolution of galaxies and black holes with galaxies in a “galactic dance” or mutual cosmic proportions. NASA has completed a live broadcast with a stunning high-resolution image of the star-forming region in the Carina Nebula, NGC 3324. The image showed what appeared to be “mountains” and “valleys” glistening in the sunlight, but were actually features that were 7 light-years high. The hotbed of star formation showed the relationship between dust and gas clouds and hot young stars.
The first image from Webb was shared from NASA’s Goddard Space Centre and is the same deep-field image from SMACS 0723 shared earlier. Some of the cosmic objects in the image are shown as they were 13.1 billion years ago. It took Webb 4 days to produce the image, compared to the ten days it took Hubble for the lower resolution image.
The telescope’s NIRCam focused on distant galaxies and allowed us to see tiny, faint structures we had never seen before, including star clusters and diffuse features. Looking at the youngest galaxies in the image, we are looking back in time to a billion years after the big bang.
Another peculiarity is the pronounced arches in the field. The strong gravitational fields of galaxy clusters bend light rays from distant galaxies behind them, causing an effect known as gravitational lensing. The stars were captured with prominent diffraction spikes because they appear brighter at shorter wavelengths.
The second image is the spectrum of the gas giant planet WASP-96b, located nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth. This is the first spectrum of an exoplanet that Webb has taken. It reveals wavelengths that have not been discovered before. The spectrum reveals telltale signs of water vapour on the planet. The planet is closer to its star than Mercury is to our sun.
This is the most detailed near-infrared transmission spectrum of exoplanet atmospheres to date. It also covers an exceptionally wide range of wavelengths, including visible red light and parts of the spectrum not previously available from other telescopes.
This part of the wavelength spectrum is very sensitive to water as well as the key molecules of life such as oxygen, methane and carbon dioxide. These are not immediately apparent in the WASP-96b spectrum and could potentially be detected in future Webb observations of other exoplanets.
The third image is a near-infrared image of the Southern Ring Nebula, or “Eight-Lightning Nebula,” a planetary nebula surrounding a dying star.
The image shows prominent stars in the centre. from Webb’s NIRCam on the left, while the image from Webb’s MIRI on the right shows for the first time that the second fainter star is surrounded by dust. The brighter star is younger and likely to project its own planetary nebula in the future.
As the pair orbit each other, they “stir the pot” of gas and dust, causing asymmetric patterns. Each envelope of gas in the image represents a time when the fainter star lost some of its mass. There are widest shells of gas toward the outer regions of the image that were ejected earlier. Those closest to the star are the newest. Scientists can gain insight into the history of the system by tracking this ejecta
The fourth image is a huge mosaic of the Stephan Quintet and the largest image Webb has taken to date. It covers more than 150 million pixels and is composed of 1,000 separate image files. The image shows the dramatic impact of huge shock waves as one of the galaxies bursts through the cluster. It also shows the black hole in the quintet in a detail that no one has seen before.
Although they are called a quintet, only four of the galaxies are actually close together and are caught in a “cosmic dance”. The galaxy on the far left is well in the foreground compared to the other four. It is about 40 million light-years away from Earth, while the other four are about 290 million light-years away. But even this distance is relatively close from a cosmic point of view.
Studying “nearby” galaxies like these helps scientists better understand the dynamics in the more distant universe. Such tightly packed groups may have been more common in the early universe when their superheated material could have powered high-energy black holes called quasars. Although we see the quintet today, the tallest galaxy harbours an active supermassive black hole with a mass of 24 million solar masses.
The latest and final image
The latest and final image released by NASA shows the star-forming region in the Carina Nebula, called NGC 3324, and its twinkling star-studded “mountains” and “valleys.” The new image, taken by Webb for the first time in the infrared, shows previously unseen regions of star birth.
The painting resembles rocky mountains on a moonlit evening. It is actually the edge of a giant gas cavity in the nebula region, and some of the highest “peaks” in the nebula are about 7 light-years high. The cavernous region in the image was carved out of the nebula by intense ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds from extremely hot young stars located at the centre of this “bubble” above the imaged region.
The intense ultraviolet radiation from this young star is slowly eroding it. Some pillars rise around the glowing gas wall, resisting the star’s radiation. What looks like steam rising from the “mountains” is actually hot ionised gas and hot dust streaming from the nebula due to radiation.