November 30, 2022

Webb Space Telescope Will “Revolutionize Our Understanding” of the Universe

Arianespaces Ariane 5 rocket launches with NASAs James Webb Space Telescope onboard December 25, 2021, from the ELA-3 Launch Zone of Europes Spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST or Webb) will study every stage of cosmic history– from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
On December 25, the biggest and most effective space telescope ever built by NASA was successfully launched from Earth.
With unmatched innovation, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will peer both near and far, from the planets and bodies in our planetary system to the inmost reaches of area, where the first stars and galaxies formed more than 13 billion years ago. JWST has a mirror that is 21.3 feet (6.5 meters) throughout, making it physically much larger than the Hubble Space Telescope and Hubbles infrared sis telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, operated by Caltechs IPAC; it also has modern photon detectors that sign up a wider variety of wavelengths and allow deeper and more in-depth views than Spitzer.
This image was recorded by the cams on board the rockets upper stage as the telescope separated from it. Credit: NASA
The launch represents a significant turning point for the task, which started building back in 2004. After launch, the telescope started a one-month odyssey to its observing perch beyond the moon, an orbital area in area called the 2nd Lagrange point or L2, which is about 1 million miles from Earth. When there, JWST will finish a six-month process of post-launch commissioning: it will unfold its mirrors, sun-shield, and other systems, and cool off, line up, and adjust.

Arianespaces Ariane 5 rocket launches with NASAs James Webb Space Telescope onboard December 25, 2021, from the ELA-3 Launch Zone of Europes Spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. The James Webb Space Telescope (often called JWST or Webb) will study every phase of cosmic history– from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe. After launch, the telescope began a one-month odyssey to its observing perch beyond the moon, an orbital location in space called the second Lagrange point or L2, which is about 1 million miles from Earth. Other observers are preparing to utilize the MIRI instrument to observe Earth-sized worlds in the TRAPPIST-1 system explored by the Spitzer Space Telescope to define the climatic structures of possibly habitable Earth-like planets for the first time. “Compared to any previous telescope, ground- or space-based, JWST has a revolutionary ability to take both images and spectra at infrared wavelengths.”

” With the Mars missions, they have something they call the seven minutes of fear– the time window in which everything needs to occur precisely for the landing,” states Charles Beichman, senior professors partner in astronomy and director of the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech. “For JWST, its a sort of 29 days of anxiety for everything to occur perfectly.”
Beichman, whose main research study focus is planets outside our planetary system, or exoplanets, belongs to the science team for among JWSTs instruments, the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam). NIRCam will discover light from the earliest stars and galaxies as they are in the process of development in addition to from populations of stars in neighboring galaxies; young stars in our Milky Way galaxy; planets orbiting nearby stars; and Kuiper Belt items at the fringes of our planetary system. Using a set of coronagraphic masks established at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which Caltech manages for NASA, to block the bright glare of host stars, Beichman and the NIRCam team will search for Saturn-sized exoplanets orbiting intense, neighboring stars consisting of epsilon Eri and Vega.
NASAs James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab
NIRCam is one of 4 significant JWST instruments to observe the sky in various wavelengths. The other 3 are the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), which will observe the light of far-off galaxies, freshly forming stars, and faintly noticeable comets in addition to objects in the Kuiper Belt; the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRSpec), which will perform high-resolution spectroscopic observations of 100 cosmic items all at once; and the Fine Guidance Sensor/Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS), which will carry out lower-resolution spectroscopic measurements to characterize the light from deep spaces very first stars in addition to exoplanets. The MIRI instrument was co-developed by JPL and the European Space Agency.
Once the telescope has completed its setup, Caltech scientists are currently amongst those approved to perform observations. Future telescopes may be able to look for even smaller sized planets.
Another major goal of the telescope will be to define the structure and physical homes of exoplanets. In addition to a team led by college student Michael Zhang (MS 18), Caltech Professor of Planetary Science Heather Knutson will utilize the MIRI instrument to study an ultra-hot planet smaller sized than the earth whipping around a close-by star in an eight-hour orbit.

Other observers are planning to utilize the MIRI instrument to observe Earth-sized planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system checked out by the Spitzer Space Telescope to characterize the climatic compositions of possibly habitable Earth-like worlds for the very first time. In general, Caltech and JPL exoplanet scientists, consisting of postdoctoral scholar Jessica Spake, visiting associate Renyu Hu, also of JPL, and JPL researcher Tiffany Kataria, were jointly successful at receiving JWST time to study exoplanets. In addition to exoplanet research studies, Caltech researchers will utilize JWST to make cosmological measurements and study distant galaxies.
For example, IPAC Staff Scientist Andreas Faisst and his team will utilize the NIRCam and MIRI instruments to study a spot of sky nicknamed COSMOS. Few stars and no clouds of gas in our galaxy obstruct our view of this location; it was famously imaged by Hubble and Spitzer, and follow-up data from the Keck telescopes and other ground-based observatories were obtained, to study how galaxies are affected by both their basic physical homes and the environment that surrounds them– a sort of study of nature and support in galactic development.

” JWST is expected to broaden on that work by supplying imaging information at unprecedented spatial resolution to study the structure of far-away galaxies and regional places of star formation in them, and to find and characterize the very first galaxies in our universe from more than 13.5 billion years in the past,” says Faisst. “In addition, it will revolutionize our understanding of the universes most massive galaxies, and in specific response the question why some of them have actually stopped forming stars.”
Beichman highlights that JWST is transformative in its abilities to study a wide variety of items far and wide, from those in our planetary system to the most distant parts of the universe. “It will serve the entire astronomical and planetary system communities with unprecedented capabilities,” he states. “Compared to any previous telescope, ground- or space-based, JWST has an advanced capability to take both images and spectra at infrared wavelengths.”

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