In short: In just a few days, NASA will release the first full-color images and spectroscopic data from the James Webb Space Telescope. As if we weren’t full of expectations yet, the space agency added fuel to the fire by teasing Webb’s first sky targets.
Goals were selected by an international committee of representatives from NASA, ESA, CSA and the Space Telescope Science Institute and mark the official start of Webb’s general science operations.
Previously, NASA shared images from its the coldest toolmid-infrared instrument (abbreviated as MIRI), but these were just test images to demonstrate that it was working properly.
Webb’s first official goals are as follows:
- Carina Nebula: The Carina Nebula is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky, located about 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 the size of the Sun.
- WASP-96b (spectrum): WASP-96 b is a giant planet outside our solar system, composed mostly of gas. The planet, located at a distance of almost 1150 light-years from Earth, revolves around its star every 3.4 days. It has about half the mass of Jupiter and was announced in 2014.
- Nebula South Rim: The southern ring, or Eight Bang Nebula, is a planetary nebula, an expanding cloud of gas surrounding a dying star. It is almost half a light year in diameter and is located about 2,000 light years from Earth.
- Stephen’s Quintet: Stephen’s Quintet lies about 290 million light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. It is notable for being the first compact group of galaxies, discovered in 1877. Four of the five galaxies in the quintet are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters.
- SMAX 0723: Massive clusters of galaxies in the foreground magnify and distort the light of objects behind them, allowing for a deep field of view of both extremely distant and inherently faint populations of galaxies.
Images of these first sightings will be released during a NASA live stream beginning July 12 at 10:30 AM ET. Web site.
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