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Zvezdna porodnišnica NGC 3324. Vir: NASA
Zvezdna porodnišnica NGC 3324. Vir: NASA

The James Webb Telescope has sent the first images of distant galaxies

The James Webb Telescope has demonstrated its great capabilities. It sent us the first photos.

This telescope is primarily intended for the study of distant planets and galaxies. It was jointly developed by the space agencies of the United States, the European Union and Canada.

A Slovenian astrophysicist also participated in the development of one of the instruments on the telescope, Dr. Maruša Bradač.

On Tuesday, the first long-awaited photo was presented by the President of the United States, Joe Biden. The next day they showed the rest.

Prva objavljena barvna fotografija, posneta v infrardeči svetlobi. Vir: NASA
The first published color photograph taken in infrared light. Source: NASA

»The Webb Telescope can observe very distant galaxies, even more than 13 billion light-years away. He sees them as they were when the universe was still very young,« says astrophysicist prof. Dr. Andreja Gomboc.

»It can also see through the clouds of gas and dust that surround stars that are just being born.«

The first image that NASA shared with the public is that of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723. It lies in the constellation of the »Flying Fish« [Piscis Volans] in the southern sky. It is so far away from us that we see it as it was 4.6 billion years ago.

Stefanov kvintet oziroma petorček. Vir: NASA
The telescope also photographed Stefan’s quintet. It consists of galaxies as much as 290 million years apart. Source: NASA

The photo of the »stellar maternity hospital« NGC 3324 is also surprising. It is a huge cloud of dust and gases. In some places it collapses in on itself, and in the process new stars are formed.

Dva logotipa in disclaimer Erasmus+

The photo is so detailed that researchers can see bubbles, indentations and bursts from newborn stars.

Using special instruments, the telescope also studies the composition of atmospheres on planets that move around other suns. It detects whether there is water and oxygen on them, which we know are absolutely necessary for life on Earth.

Prof. Dr. Andreja Gomboc

Glossary

A telescope is an optical instrument with which we obtain a magnified image of distant objects.

Points to Consider

  1. Why do we see such distant galaxies with a lag?
  2. What is a galaxy?
  3. What does it mean that a constellation is in the southern sky?

***

The original version of this article was published on July 14th.

English translation courtesy of JL FlannerTotal Slovenia News, an English language website with news from and about Slovenia.

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