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[EXPLAINED] What is the wondrous James Webb Space Telescope?

The James Webb Space Telescope is wondrous. Located about 1.5 million kilometres beyond Earth’s orbit around the sun (four times further than the moon), it is the most powerful telescope ever launched into space, dwarfing the capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Its vastly superior infrared resolution will enable humanity to study objects too old, distant, or faint to see before now.

Unimpeded by Earth’s atmosphere, it will also enable astronomers to directly observe the birth of the first stars and galaxies and provide detail about potentially habitable planets.

The telescope is named after James Edwin Webb, head of the Apollo programme that sent humans to the moon.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released the first awe-inspiring image from the James Webb Space on Monday:

The bright, spiky points are “nearby” stars while every gleaming blob is a distant galaxy, each with a mind-bending number of stars and planets.

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The light from galaxies in the foreground took 4.6 billion years to reach the telescope's sensors while the galaxies beyond those are even more ancient.

The $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope has four key goals:

  • Search for light from the first stars and galaxies that formed after the Big Bang

  • Study galaxy formation and evolution

  • Understand star formation and planet formation

  • Study planetary systems and the origins of life

Image credit: Nasa

To learn more, watch Nasa reveal the long-awaited first images from the James Webb Space Telescope:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : [EXPLAINED] What is the wondrous James Webb Space Telescope?

Artmotion S.Africa

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