April 19, 2024

Incredibly Sharp Webb Space Telescope Test Images Hint at New Possibilities for Science

Here, a close-up of the MIRI image is compared to a past image of the same target taken with NASAs Spitzer Space Telescopes Infrared Array Camera (at 8.0 microns). Webbs MIRI image reveals the interstellar gas in unmatched detail. The James Webb Space Telescope is a global partnership in between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Comparison of a Webb Space Telescope Mid-Infrared Instrument picture of the Large Magellanic Cloud and a past image of the very same view utilizing the Spitzer Space Telescope Infrared Array Camera. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (left), NASA/ESA/CSA/ STScI (right).
NASAs James Webb Space Telescope is lined up throughout all four of its science instruments, as seen in a previous engineering image revealing the observatorys complete field of vision. Now, we take a closer take a look at that exact same image, concentrating on Webbs coldest instrument: the Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI.
The MIRI test image (at 7.7 microns) shows part of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). This small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, situated about 160,000 light-years away, provided a dense star field to test Webbs efficiency.
Here, a close-up of the MIRI image is compared to a previous image of the exact same target taken with NASAs Spitzer Space Telescopes Infrared Array Camera (at 8.0 microns). The retired Spitzer telescope was one of NASAs Great Observatories and the first to offer high-resolution pictures of the near- and mid-infrared universe. Webb, with its considerably larger main mirror and improved detectors, will permit us to see the infrared sky with improved clearness, making it possible for much more discoveries.

Comparison of a Webb MIRI image of the Large Magellanic Cloud and a past picture of the same view using the Spitzer IRAC. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (top), NASA/ESA/CSA/ STScI (bottom).
Webbs MIRI image reveals the interstellar gas in unmatched detail. Here, you can see the emission from “polycyclic fragrant hydrocarbons,” or particles of carbon and hydrogen that play an essential function in the thermal balance and chemistry of interstellar gas. When Webb is prepared to begin science observations, research studies such as these with MIRI will assist offer astronomers brand-new insights into the birth of stars and protoplanetary systems.
In the meantime, the Webb group has actually started the process of establishing and testing Webbs instruments to start science observations this summer.
Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/ STScI.
The James Webb Space Telescope is a global partnership in between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). MIRI belongs to Europes contribution to the Webb objective. It is a collaboration in between Europe and the USA; the main partners are ESA, a consortium of nationally funded European institutes, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).