"Webb will be able to see galaxies as they looked a couple
hundred million years after the Big Bang,"
We don't know if we are alone in this deep, dark, immensely cold universe. There are still so many questions that are left wide open for interpretation of what is REALLY out there... or how we even got here to begin with (?!?)
NASA is coming through with a massive game-changer, the James Webb telescope, which may tie up many of these loose ends. The telescope will not only allow us to explore the universe at its current, everchanging, ever-growing state, but will also allow us to peer into and get a deeper understanding of the origin of the universe.
🔭The James Webb Space Telescope, also known as Webb or JWST Webb, is a project of the international partnership between NASA, ESA and CSA. Webb is a large space-based observatory, optimized for infrared wavelengths that will complement and extend the Hubble Space Telescope discoveries. It will have greater sensitivity and will cover longer wavelengths of light than Hubble. JWST will be able to look further back in time to see the origins of the universe - literally the first galaxies that formed in the early universe. It will also be able to peer inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are arising. It is essentially a 10 billion dollar time- machine which has been in development for over 20 years.
Perception puts it into perspective:
"Imagine that you are 65 million lightyears away from Earth somewhere in the Virgo cluster, and you have a very powerful telescope (the Webb telescope in this case) which you can use to study the Earth. Taking a look through the telescope, you would be able to see what dinosaurs looked like on planet Earth."
This is going to be BIG
Narrow and Deep Imaging
👀The Webb telescope is a reflecting telescope made out of three curved mirrors comprised of 18 hexagonal segments. The hexagon segments control the focus and can be calibrated with a precision of a few millionths of a millimetre, ( or one ten-thousandth of the thickness of a human hair) to increase the accuracy and detail of images.
The telescope is optimized for "narrow and deep" imaging and spectroscopy studies in the near and mid-infrared. Unlike the Hubble telescope, which only captures visible light, Webb will be able to capture light that has travelled for nearly the entire history of the universe.
Time for a bit of Science!
The Webb telescope is equipped with hypersensitive infrared detectors.
The primary imager - the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), will be able to detect infrared wavelengths at a range of 0.6 to 5 microns. It will study the spectrum of light emitted by an object to tell us the mass, temperature and chemical composition. The NIRCam will be able to detect light from the earliest stars and galaxies in the process of formation, the population of stars in nearby galaxies, as well as young stars in the Milky Way and Kuiper Belt objects.
The Fine Guidance Sensor/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS) captures spectroscopies in near-infrared light, and can detect, characterise and perform exoplanet spectroscopy.
The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) works with infrared light rays with longer waves. It can penetrate through dust clouds, and can capture faint infrared light emitted by the first stars in galaxies, faintly visible comets and objects in the Kuiper Belt.
Why is this important?
Einstein's Theory of Relativity states that as the space between objects in our universe expand, so does light. As the distance grows, the wavelengths of the light travelling lengthen and become infrared.
When we look up at the sky at night there are millions, billions, TRILLIONS of stars that are not visible to us for this reason.
The James Webb Telescope will be able to detect this light.
One giant leap for mankind.
👨🏾🚀Webb will help scientists search for signs of life in outer space by analysing the starlight that passes through the atmosphere of Earth-like planets beyond our solar system. The telescope will also be used to detect the chemical and physical compositions of objects in the "Habitable zone" of our solar system. It is anticipated that this may help to identify planets that contain water, bringing us closer in our search for signs of extraterrestrial life.
The impressive technological evolutions (research it! it's worth your time), years of commitment and massive potential of the telescope have excited me since I was a child. I have - quite literally - been following the development of this telescope for most of my life. The launch date of this telescope is anticipated to be the 18th of December 2021, a massive birthday present to me and a gift to the world, helping us to unlock the secrets of the universe.
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