March 22, 2023

“Game Changing” Webb Space Telescope Ushers In New Age of Astronomy

Creative mural of the James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: NASA
A “game changing” new telescope will be blasted into space tonight to start a lonesome 1.5-million-kilometer orbit around the Sun to supply a clearer view of the ever-expanding universe.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the biggest telescope ever to be launched into space and will be used by University of Queensland scientists to observe asteroids and newborn planets, as well as great voids in remote galaxies.
UQ astrophysicist Dr. Benjamin Pope said hes thrilled by the capabilities of the JWST, widely considered as the successor to the famed Hubble Space Telescope (HST), which launched in 1990.

In order to identify the most far-off and earliest galaxies, the telescope needs to be huge and kept very cold. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
” The JWST will go drastically beyond what any telescope has had the ability to do– it will see some of the first stars in deep space, billions of light years away,” Dr. Pope said.
” By looking at exoplanets as they transit, it will measure their atmospheric composition and spot water and other particles that might indicate worlds efficient in sustaining life.
” It alters the game on how we observe worlds, stars, asteroids, and deep space around us.”
After more than a years of hold-ups, on December 24 the telescope will be released on a European Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana, bringing astronomers closer to distant galaxies than ever previously.
” One of the primary advantages of a space telescope such as the JWST is that it overcomes among the greatest problems facing astronomers– the atmosphere blocking their view of the broader universe,” Dr. Pope stated.
” Such a powerful space telescope will put us on the doorstep of some extraordinary discoveries.”
Dr. Pope will be associated with a number of observation projects, consisting of the kernel stage project, observing far-off and hard-to-see planets and stars, and on an aperture masking task to study planets at the minute they form around stars, and on approaches to observe asteroids and dwarf planets with higher clarity than ever previously.
Scientists and engineers tested the whole telescope in an extremely cold, low-pressure cryogenic vacuum chamber. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
” One project will use the JWST to study how brown overshadows type, and since Ive dealt with a comparable project for my Honours thesis using data from the HST, my role will be using the extremely exact same algorithm to evaluate data from the JWST regarding these brown overshadows,” Dr. Pope stated.
” Another project will observe the most important asteroids– the only problem is theyre too bright to observe, and images are cleaned out.
” To deal with this, weve developed techniques to make it easier to observe these too-bright stars, that involves a high vibrant variety image processing mode– like you d use on your phone cam to bring out dark shadows and bright highlights.”
UQ Associate Professor Holger Baumgardt will use the JWST for a series of observation tasks targeted at identifying and studying great voids in distant galaxies.
” Specifically, well be searching for supermassive black holes in the centers of neighboring galaxies,” Dr. Baumgardt said.
” Our aim is to understand the relationship between the mass of both black holes and the galaxies that host them and learn how these supermassive great voids formed.”
Equipped with the significant capabilities of the JWST, Dr. Pope said the future of astronomy looks brilliant, with responses to some of astronomys essential concerns within reach.
” JWST will give us a clearer image of the origins of our own Solar System, and our finest ever glances of the other strange and fantastic systems of planets in the Galaxy.”