• Chris Baker

First images from The James Webb Space Telescope

Today on the 12th July 2022 the NASA team will release the first images from the JWST.

This blog tells you the TARGETS plus HOW and WHERE to see them on release:


  • Carina Nebula: The Carina Nebula is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky, located approximately 7,600 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. Nebulae are stellar nurseries where stars form. The Carina Nebula is home to many massive stars, several times larger than the Sun. I wonder if it will be as good as my image!? :-)

  • WASP-96 b (spectrum): WASP-96 b is a giant planet outside our solar system, composed mainly of gas. The planet, located nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth, orbits its star every 3.4 days. It has about half the mass of Jupiter, and its discovery was announced in 2014.

  • Southern Ring Nebula: The Southern Ring, or “Eight-Burst” nebula, is a planetary nebula – an expanding cloud of gas, surrounding a dying star. It is nearly half a light-year in diameter and is located approximately 2,000 light years away from Earth.

  • Stephan’s Quintet: About 290 million light-years away, Stephan’s Quintet is located in the constellation Pegasus. It is notable for being the first compact galaxy group ever discovered in 1877. Four of the five galaxies within the quintet are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters.

  • SMACS 0723: Massive foreground galaxy clusters magnify and distort the light of objects behind them, permitting a deep field view into both the extremely distant and intrinsically faint galaxy populations.

One image was released at a ceremony at The White House by President Joe Biden on the 11th July and this was the SMACS 0723 image -here it is:

Gravitationally lensed galaxies - an Amazing image!

Each of those blobs is an extremely distant galaxy each of which probably contains hundreds of billions of stars. Given we know that many stars have their own planetary systems - image how many planets and moons there must be and maybe, just maybe ..life?

HOW and WHEN to see the full release

Countdown: How many minutes left? The official countdown is at https://webb.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/countdown.html

Watch: See the images revealed in real-time and hear from experts about the exciting results on NASA TV at 10:30am Eastern on July 12: https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive

View: Just interested in the amazing imagery? You will be able to find the first images and spectra at: https://www.nasa.gov/webbfirstimages

Socialize: Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with @NASA and @NASAWebb using #UnfoldTheUniverse!

Download: High-resolution downloads and supplemental content will be available for download at: https://webbtelescope.org/news/first-images

Ask: On July 13, ask your questions about these first images and spectra using #UnfoldtheUniverse, and you could see them answered on NASA Science Live at: https://www.nasa.gov/nasasciencelive We look forward to celebrating the official kickoff of Webb science with you soon!

If you want to follow our favourite space robot then here's the link! Worth Bookmarking too.

Here's the link: https://www.webb.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/whereIsWebb.html

Illustration of the James Webb Telescope

Illustration showing the enormous sun-shield.

How did it get there?

An illustration of the deployment to L2

What is it going to do?

The early Universe

The JWST will be able to look back to around 200 million years after the Big Bang, when the first stars in the Universe formed.

The first stars are thought to have been massive giants made of hydrogen and helium, whose short lives ended in the supernovae that created the heavier elements we detect in younger stars today. To see this period in cosmic history, we need sensitive infrared instruments to detect the faint traces of light that have travelled through space and time to reach us.

Ancient galaxies

The JWST will also look back to the very first galaxies in the Universe to learn more about their evolution and why there’s so much variety in them. Nearly all the spiral and elliptical galaxies that we see today have experienced at least one collision or merger with another local galaxy.

Yet older galaxies look entirely different to their modern counterparts – smaller, clumpier, less structured. Examining galaxies can also inform us of the macrostructure of the Universe and how it’s organised on a large scale.

Dark matter

Dark matter is thought to play an important role in the structure of the Universe, accounting for five times the mass of normal matter such as atoms. Considered to be the scaffolding for the Universe, we’re only able to observe dark matter indirectly by measuring how its gravity affects stars and galaxies.

The JWST won’t be able to see dark matter, but it will employ techniques to study the most distant galaxies and look at their rotation for signs that dark matter is at play.

Exoplanet atmospheres

The JWST will help answer the big question of whether life exists beyond Earth by studying a variety of exoplanets – planets outside our Solar System.

Of particular interest is the TRAPPIST-1 system, where three of its seven planets are in the habitable zone and one may harbour liquid water. The JWST will observe the planet as light from its parent star passes through the planet’s atmosphere, revealing its chemical composition and the gases that are present there.

Our ice giants

While the JWST’s primary science aims lie more in cosmology and star formation, it’ll also take a closer look at a couple of familiar objects – our ice giants, Neptune and Uranus.

The JWST will map their atmospheric temperatures and chemical composition to see how different they are – not only to each other, but also their gas giant cousins, Jupiter and Saturn. The ice giants are at least 30 times further from the Sun than Earth and are the least understood planets in our Solar System.

Pluto and the Kuiper Belt Objects

Dwarf planet Pluto and its fellow Kuiper Belt Objects will also be receiving some observation time.

The JWST is powerful enough to study such icy bodies including comets, which are often-pristine leftovers from our Solar System’s days of planet formation and could hold clues to Earth’s origins. There are no planned missions dedicated to the outer Solar System for years, so new observations and data will play a big part in planning for future planetary missions.

Why ‘James Webb’?

James Webb was head of NASA. He oversaw NASA from the beginning of the Kennedy administration through to the end of the Johnson administration, (1961-68) thus overseeing all the critical first manned launches in the Mercury through Gemini programs, until just before the first crewed Apollo flight. He also dealt with the Apollo 1 fire.


131 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All