Webb Image Release- Webb Space Telescope GSFC/NASA

This image is dominated by NGC 7469, a luminous, face-on spiral galaxy approximately 90 000 light-years in diameter that lies roughly 220 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Pegasus. Its companion galaxy IC 5283 is partly visible in the lower left portion of this image. More

This spiral galaxy has recently been studied as part of the Great Observatories All-sky LIRGs Survey (GOALS) Early Release Science program with the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, which aims to study the physics of star formation, black hole growth, and feedback in four nearby, merging luminous infrared galaxies. Other galaxies studied as part of the survey include previous ESA/Webb Pictures of the Month II ZW 096 and IC 1623.

NGC 7469 is home to an active galactic nucleus (AGN), which is an extremely bright central region that is dominated by the light emitted by dust and gas as it falls into the galaxys central black hole. This galaxy provides astronomers with the unique opportunity to study the relationship between AGNs and starburst activity because this particular object hosts an AGN that is surrounded by a starburst ring at a distance of a mere 1500 light-years. While NGC 7469 is one of the best studied AGNs in the sky, the compact nature of this system and the presence of a great deal of dust have made it difficult for scientists to achieve both the resolution and sensitivity needed to study this relationship in the infrared. Now, with Webb, astronomers can explore the galaxys starburst ring, the central AGN, and the gas and dust in between.

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Credits: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, L. Armus, A. S. Evans

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Webb Image Release- Webb Space Telescope GSFC/NASA

What Is the James Webb Space Telescope? – NASA

An animation illustrating what the James Webb Space Telescope Looks like. Credit: NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center (modified)

The James Webb Space Telescope is the largest, most powerful space telescope ever built. It will allow scientists to look at what our universe was like about 200 million years after the Big Bang. The telescope will be able to capture images of some of the first galaxies ever formed. It will also be able to observe objects in our solar system from Mars outward, look inside dust clouds to see where new stars and planets are forming and examine the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars.

Here are some fun facts about the James Webb Space Telescope:

The Webb telescope is as tall as a 3-story building and as long as a tennis court! It is so big that it has to fold origami-style to fit inside the rocket to launch. The telescope will unfold, sunshield first, once in space.

The James Webb Space Telescope is about the same size as a tennis court and about as tall as a 3-story building! Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Infrared cameras can see through dust and smoke. Credit: NASA/IPAC/Pasadena Fire Dept.

The James Webb Space Telescope sees the universe in light that is invisible to human eyes. This light is called infrared radiation, and we can feel it as heat. Firefighters use infrared cameras to see and rescue people through the smoke in a fire. The James Webb Space Telescope will use its infrared cameras to see through dust in our universe. Stars and planets form inside those dust clouds, so peeking inside could lead to exciting new discoveries! It will also be able to see objects (like the first galaxies) that are so far away that the expansion of the universe has made their light shift from visible to infrared!

This animation shows how the sunshield will unfold when the Webb telescope reaches its home in orbit. Credit: NASA

The Webb telescopes cameras are sensitive to heat from the Sun. Just like you might wear a hat or a visor to block the Sun from your eyes, Webb has a sunshield to protect its instruments and mirrors. The telescopes sunshield is about the size of a tennis court. The temperature difference between the sun-facing and shaded sides of the telescope is more than 600 degrees Fahrenheit!

Engineers inspecting the Webb telescopes mirrors at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

Space telescopes see by using mirrors to collect and focus light from distant stars. (Check out our telescopes page to learn more about how space telescopes work.) The bigger the mirror, the more details the telescope can see. Its very difficult to launch a giant, heavy mirror into space. So, engineers gave the Webb telescope 18 smaller mirrors that fit together like a puzzle. The mirrors fold up inside the rocket, then unfold to form one large mirror in orbit.

Why are the mirrors gold? A thin layer of gold helps the mirrors reflect infrared light!

Could life survive on this faraway planet? Astronomers study the light from stars and planets to see if they might have the ingredients for life. Animation credit: NASA/ESA/Dani Player (STScI), Music credit: Steve Combs

Our solar system isnt the only home for planets! Scientists have discovered thousands of planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. These are called exoplanets. The James Webb Space Telescope will help to study the atmospheres of exoplanets. Could the atmospheres of some exoplanets hold the building blocks for life? We will find out soon!

The James Webb Space Telescope launched on December 25, 2021. Want to stay up to date and learn more about NASAs biggest and most powerful telescope? Check out this cool timeline to learn what the telescope is doing right now! Also, Find more facts, photos, videos and more at the James Webb Space Telescope Website!

NASA Exoplanets: What is the habitable zone?James Webb Space Telescope PosterLesson Plans, Activities, Resources & Programs For Informal EducationTeachable Moment: Learn About the Universe With the James Webb Space Telescope

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What Is the James Webb Space Telescope? - NASA

The Launch – Webb/NASA

The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on an Ariane 5 rocket, one of the world's most reliable launch vehicles.


The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch vehicle and launch site are part of the European Space Agency's contribution to the mission. The Ariane 5 is one of the world's most reliable launch vehicles and was chosen for a combination of reliability (it was the only launch vehicle that met NASA's requirements for launching a mission like Webb) and for the value it brings via our international partnership. Read more about why the Ariane 5 was chosen.

Webb was launched from Arianespace's ELA-3 launch complex at Europe's Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. It is beneficial for launch sites to be located near the equator - the spin of the Earth can help give an additional push. The surface of the Earth at the equator is moving at 1670 km/hr.

The Launch Segment has 3 primary components:

1. Launch Vehicle: an Ariane 5 with the cryogenic upper stage. Provided in the single launch configuration, with a long payload fairing providing a maximum 4.57 meter static diameter and useable length of 16.19 meters.

2. Payload Adapter, comprising the Cone 3936 plus ACU 2624 lower cylinder and clamp-band, which provides the separating mechanical and electrical interface between the Webb Observatory and the Launch Vehicle.

3. Launch campaign preparation and launch campaign. The launch campaign preparation and launch campaign is the mutual responsibility of NASA, ESA, Northrop Grumman and ArianeSpace.

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The Launch - Webb/NASA

James Webb Space Telescope reveals alien planet’s atmosphere like never …

A boiling Saturn-like planet 700 light-years away from the sun has become the best-explored planet outside our solar system. The James Webb Space Telescope's measurements of the planet's atmosphere have revealed unprecedented details of its chemistry, and even allowed astronomers to test methods for detecting alien life.

The exoplanet WASP-39b, which orbits a star in the constellation Virgo, made headlines in late August when the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb or JWST) found carbon dioxide in its atmosphere. It was the first ever such detection and experts hailed the finding as a major breakthrough. Now, less than three months later, an avalanche of studies based on the grand telescope's observations have revealed the most minute details of WASP-39b's atmosphere, which even enabled astronomers to make conclusions about the exoplanet's formation history.

"These early observations are a harbinger of more amazing science to come with JWST," Laura Kreidberg, director of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Germany who was involved in the observations, said in a statement. "We put the telescope through its paces to test the performance, and it was nearly flawless even better than we hoped."

Related: James Webb Space Telescope snags its 1st direct photo of an alien world

Astronomers used three out of Webb's four instruments to observe the distant planet: the main NIRCam camera and the two spectroscopes NIRISS and NIRSpec, which split light from the observed objects into light spectra, the barcode-like fingerprints that reveal the chemical compositions of the observed planets and stars.

The observations revealed that WASP-39b is shrouded in thick clouds containing sulfur and silicates. These chemicals interact with the light of the parent star, producing sulfur dioxide in a reaction similar to the one that produces ozone in Earth's atmosphere.

WASP-39b is a gas giant about one-third the size of the solar system's largest planet, Jupiter, and orbits only 4.3 million miles (7 million kilometers) away from its parent star, or eight times closer than the distance of the solar system's innermost planet Mercury from the sun.

The sheer intensity of starlight that batters WASP-39b makes the planet an ideal laboratory for studying such photochemical reactions, scientists said in the statement.

The level of detail provided by JWST allowed astronomers to peek into WASP-39b's past and learn how this hot and scorching world came into being. From the ratios of carbon to oxygen, of potassium to oxygen, and of sulfur to hydrogen in the planet's atmosphere, the researchers inferred that the gas giant planet must have formed from collisions of several smaller planetesimals. In addition, the much higher abundance of oxygen compared to carbon in the thick clouds revealed that WASP-39b formed much farther away from its star than it orbits today.

"Data like these are a game changer," Natalia Batalha, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California at Santa Cruz who coordinated the observing program, said in the statement.

The observations even allowed astronomers to test methods that one day could help detect life on other exoplanets. That detection would rely on a similar atmospheric analysis as conducted on WASP-39b, then compare the results with models of alien planets. If the planet displays more oxygen than those models predict, for example, it could be a sign of life.

WASP-39b, however, due to its proximity to its parent star, is an improbable candidate to host extraterrestrial life as temperature on the planet soars to an unlivable 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit (900 degrees Celsius).

Five new studies (1,2,3,4,5) based on JWST data are under review or in press with the journal Nature.

Follow Tereza Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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James Webb Space Telescope reveals alien planet's atmosphere like never ...

Who Is James Webb – Webb/NASA


James E. Webb ran the fledgling space agency from February 1961 to October 1968. He believed that NASA had to strike a balance between human space flight and science.

The man whose name NASA has chosen to bestow upon the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is most commonly linked to the Apollo moon program, not to science.

Yet, many believe that James E. Webb, who ran the fledgling space agency from February 1961 to October 1968, did more for science than perhaps any other government official and that it is only fitting that the Next Generation Space Telescope would be named after him.

(High-res pic available, credit: NASA)

Webb's record of support for space science would support those views. Although President John Kennedy had committed the nation to landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade, Webb believed that the space program was more than a political race. He believed that NASA had to strike a balance between human space flight and science because such a combination would serve as a catalyst for strengthening the nation's universities and aerospace industry.

As part of an oral history project sponsored by the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, Webb recalled his conversations with Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson. He was quoted as saying in one transcript, "And so far as I'm concerned, I'm not going to run a program that's just a one-shot program. If you want me to be the administrator, it's going to be a balanced program that does the job for the country..."

Webb's vision of a balanced program resulted in a decade of space science research that remains unparalleled today. During his tenure, NASA invested in the development of robotic spacecraft, which explored the lunar environment so that astronauts could do so later, and it sent scientific probes to Mars and Venus, giving Americans their first-ever view of the strange landscape of outer space. As early as 1965, Webb also had written that a major space telescope, then known as the Large Space Telescope, should become a major NASA effort.

By the time Webb retired just a few months before the first moon landing in July 1969, NASA had launched more than 75 space science missions to study the stars and galaxies, our own Sun and the as-yet unknown environment of space above the Earth's atmosphere. Missions such as the Orbiting Solar Observatory and the Explorer series of astronomical satellites built the foundation for the most successful period of astronomical discovery in history, which continues today.

Webb supported science behind the scenes, as well. Shortly after assuming the job vacated by Keith Glennan, Webb chose to continue the same basic organization that his predecessor had adopted for the selection of science programs. However, he enhanced the role of scientists in key ways. He gave them greater control in the selection process of science missions and he created the NASA University Program, which established grants for space research, funded the construction of new laboratories at universities and provided fellowships for graduate students. The program also encouraged university presidents and vice presidents to actively participate in NASA's Space Science Program and to publicly support all of NASA's programs.

This record of accomplishment is perhaps more notable given Webb's initial reluctance to accept the job. An experienced manager, attorney and businessman, the North Carolina native had served as Director of the Bureau of the Budget and as Undersecretary of State in the Truman administration. Webb also served as president and vice president of several private firms and served on the board of directors of the McDonnell Aircraft Company. He was not, however, a scientist or engineer-something he noted when President Kennedy asked him to consider the job as NASA Administrator.

He told an interviewer that, "I felt that I had made the pattern of my life, and I was not really the best person for this anyway. It seemed to me someone who knew more about rocketry, about space, would be a better person." Kennedy did not see it that way. With his keen political savvy and exceptional managerial skills, Webb was perfect for the job, the President believed. He made it clear to Webb that the NASA Administrator's job was a policy job. He needed someone who could handle the large issues of national and international policies.

The scientific community was equally anxious about Webb. The scientists at NASA Headquarters had wanted someone with a keen interest in space science and a desire to bolster the involvement of universities in the space program. Within a few months, Webb proved where he stood.

At the height of the Apollo program, NASA had 35,000 employees and more than 400,000 contractors in thousands of companies and universities across the U.S. Under Webb's direction, the agency undertook one of the most impressive projects in history-landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

As NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said when he announced the new name for the next generation space telescope, "It is fitting that Hubble's successor be named in honor of James Webb. Thanks to his efforts, we got our first glimpses at the dramatic landscape of outer space. He took our nation on its first voyages of exploration, turning our imagination into reality. Indeed, he laid the foundations at NASA for one of the most successful periods of astronomical discovery. As a result, we're rewriting the textbooks today with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope , the Chandra X-ray Observatory , and the James Webb Telescope."

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Who Is James Webb - Webb/NASA

James Webb Discovery Helps Date Birth of Very First Galaxies – TIME

  1. James Webb Discovery Helps Date Birth of Very First Galaxies  TIME
  2. Discovering rare red spiral galaxy population from early universe with the James Webb Space Telescope  Science Daily
  3. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope discovers furthest galaxy  Cosmos
  4. Oldest known galaxies spotted by James Webb Space Telescope  Fox News
  5. James Webb Space Telescope 'fingerprints' earliest galaxies  BBC
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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James Webb Discovery Helps Date Birth of Very First Galaxies - TIME

Webb Telescope Pictures of Titan Help Start an Alien Storm Forecast – The New York Times

  1. Webb Telescope Pictures of Titan Help Start an Alien Storm Forecast  The New York Times
  2. James Webb telescope turns gaze to Saturn's strange moon Titan  Astronomy Magazine
  3. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Captures Signs Of Weird Weather On Titan For The First Time  Forbes
  4. Webb telescope spies clouds beneath the thick haze of Saturn's moon Titan  CNN
  5. James Webb Telescope spots a rare sight on an extraterrestrial body: clouds  ZME Science
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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Webb Telescope Pictures of Titan Help Start an Alien Storm Forecast - The New York Times

James Webb Telescopes Unparalleled View of the Ghostly Light in Galaxy Clusters – SciTechDaily

  1. James Webb Telescopes Unparalleled View of the Ghostly Light in Galaxy Clusters  SciTechDaily
  2. Images Show NASA's Webb Space Telescope Finding Things Hubble Didn't  Business Insider
  3. VP Harris, French President Macron see Webb telescope's latest chaotic image  CNN
  4. NASA Webb Telescope Unveils Soul-Haunting New 'Pillars of Creation' View  CNET
  5. James Webb Space Telescope updates iconic Pillars of Creation image  RedShark News
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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James Webb Telescopes Unparalleled View of the Ghostly Light in Galaxy Clusters - SciTechDaily

NASA Drops Stunning New James Webb Image of a Star Being Born

The James Webb Space Telescope just released an image of a star being born, and it gives Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper a run for their money.

Birth Canal

The James Webb Space Telescope's latest mind-bending image just dropped — and this one is, in a word, splendid.

As NASA notes in a blog post about the finding, the telescope's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) was put to incredible use when capturing the "once-hidden features" of the beginnings of a star.

Known as "protostars," celestial objects like this one — found inside an uber-absorbant "dark nebula" cloud — are not yet stars, but will be soon. In short, the Webb telescope capture imagery of a star being born.

As NASA notes, the fledgling star itself is hidden within the tiny "neck" disk of the spectacular, fiery hourglass shape in the image — which is, as NASA notes, "about the size of our solar system" — and the colorful lights seen below and above this neck are emitted by the protostar's birth.

Countdown to a new star ?

Hidden in the neck of this “hourglass” of light are the very beginnings of a new star — a protostar. The clouds of dust and gas within this region are only visible in infrared light, the wavelengths that Webb specializes in: https://t.co/DtazblATMW pic.twitter.com/aGEEBO9BB8

— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) November 16, 2022

Stellar Anatomy

While this incredible capture is not the first time space telescopes have observed star birth, Webb's latest does provide an incredible look at the phenomenon.

"The surrounding molecular cloud is made up of dense dust and gas being drawn to the center, where the protostar resides," the post reads. "As the material falls in, it spirals around the center. This creates a dense disk of material, known as an accretion disk, which feeds material to the protostar."

Some of that material, NASA notes, are "filaments of molecular hydrogen that have been shocked as the protostar ejects material away from it," most of which the stellar fetus takes for itself. It continues to feed on that material, growing more massive and compressing further until its core temperature rises to the point that it kickstarts nuclear fusion.

This gorgeous peek at that process is extraordinary to witness — and a yet another testament to the power of the mighty James Webb.

More on Webb: NASA Fixes Months-Long Issue With Webb Telescope

The post NASA Drops Stunning New James Webb Image of a Star Being Born appeared first on Futurism.

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NASA Drops Stunning New James Webb Image of a Star Being Born

Experts Excoriate NASA Report Claiming James Webb Wasn’t Homophobic

A group of astronomers has clapped back at a NASA report claiming that it had found no evidence that the original James Webb was homophobic.

NASA says it can't find any record that James Webb, the State Department and NASA leader for whom the agency's groundbreaking new space telescope is named, was aware of homophobic government purges — but a bunch of astronomers are clapping back at the agency's claims.

"After an exhaustive search of U.S. government and Truman library archives," administrator Bill Nelson was quoted as saying in the agency's press release about its decision, "NASA’s historical investigation found, ‘To date, no available evidence directly links Webb to any actions or follow-up related to the firing of individuals for their sexual orientation.'"

In their own statement — which follows a 2021 Scientific American editorial and numerous other calls urging NASA to rename the telescope — astronomy experts Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Lucianne Walkowicz, Sarah Tuttle and Brian Nord are calling shenanigans in the strictest terms.

"NASA’s press release utilizes a practice of selective historical reading," the open letter reads, pointing to the agency's insistence that the original Webb was unaware of the firing of Clifford Norton, a NASA budget analyst who was canned in 1963 after being arrested for making a "homosexual advance" on someone. At the time, Webb was head of NASA.

The argument — which makes sense, if you think about it — is basically that Webb was either aware of the institutionalized homophobia in a way that didn't survive in existing documentation, or unaware of a key dynamic at the workplace he was in charge of. Neither option is flattering.

"Because we do not know of a piece of paper that explicitly says, 'James Webb knew about this,' they assume it means he did not," the experts wrote. "In such a scenario, we have to assume he was relatively incompetent as a leader: the administrator of NASA should know if his chief of security is extrajudicially interrogating people."

"We are deeply concerned by the implication that managers are not responsible for homophobia or other forms of discrimination that happens on their watch," they continued, noting that such a stance is "explicitly anti-equity, diversity and inclusion" that puts "responsibility on the most marginalized people to fend for ourselves, and it is in conflict with legal norms in many US jurisdictions."

It's "deeply unscientific," the astronomy luminaries added, that "NASA is engaging in historical cherry picking" with a figure who was, along with the state-sanctioned homophobia that occurred on his watch, accused of engaging in Cold War-era "psychological warfare," in which, as The Atlantic noted in 2018, then-Undersecretary of State Webb assembled a team of hard and soft scientists to figure out the best ways to conduct anti-Soviet propaganda.

NASA and the scientific community at large should, the astronomers wrote in Scientific American, "name telescopes out of love for those who came before us and led the way to freedom."

More on Webb: NASA Drops Stunning New James Webb Image of a Star Being Born

The post Experts Excoriate NASA Report Claiming James Webb Wasn't Homophobic appeared first on Futurism.

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Experts Excoriate NASA Report Claiming James Webb Wasn't Homophobic

Webb Offers Never-Before-Seen Details of Early Universe James Webb Space Telescope – NASA Blogs

  1. Webb Offers Never-Before-Seen Details of Early Universe James Webb Space Telescope  NASA Blogs
  2. New Nasa James Webb telescope picture shows galaxy forming as the universe is just beginning  Yahoo News
  3. Webb reveals hidden star formation in pair of colliding galaxies  Space.com
  4. Spectacular New Images From The Webb Telescope Show Galaxy Collision 270 Million Light-Years Away  Forbes
  5. James Webb Space Telescope Snaps Image of Two Galaxies Merging  PCMag
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News


Webb Offers Never-Before-Seen Details of Early Universe James Webb Space Telescope - NASA Blogs

Science Caf invites community discussion on James Webb Telescope, technology advancement – The Michigan Daily

  1. Science Caf invites community discussion on James Webb Telescope, technology advancement  The Michigan Daily
  2. What is the James Webb Space Telescope? Here is everything you need to know about NASA's most powerful telescope  ZDNet
  3. James Webb Space Telescope still performing better than expected despite glitch, micrometeoroids  Space.com
  4. James Webb Space Telescope's stunning images of the cosmos are made in Baltimore  CBS Baltimore
  5. The Most Striking Photos From the Webb Telescope's First 100 Days  Business Insider
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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Science Caf invites community discussion on James Webb Telescope, technology advancement - The Michigan Daily

James Webb telescope first images of our galaxy’s evolution are … – BGR

After months of waiting, NASA has finally revealed the James Webb telescopes first full-color images. And the results are better than we ever could have hoped for. They show in awe-inspiring detail photos of our early universe, the sharpest and deepest images ever recorded, black holes, and our galaxys evolution.

Last week, NASA revealed the targets for the James Webb telescopes first full-color images. This list came months after the telescope had reached its final destination and began preparing for its scientific missions.

Now, though, NASA has finally started releasing the first images, as well as spectrum research of an exoplanet known as WASP-96 b.

On Monday, a day before the event, NASA and President Biden joined together to showcase the first image. Titled Webbs First Deep Field, the image is of a galaxy cluster known as SMACS 0723. The image is absolutely overflowing with details, and you can even see the gravitational lensing around SMACS 0723.

Additionally, NASA also released spectrum details of WASP-96 b, an extraordinary exoplanet located more than 1,000 light-years from Earth. As part of James Webbs first full-color images, the spectrum gives us our first breakdown of an exoplanet in full detail.

The next images captured by Webb include a detailed capture of the Carina Nebula, the Southern Ring Nebula, and Stephans Quintet. The images themselves are absolutely beautiful, and unlike anything weve ever seen before. If this is what James Webb is capable of, then were in for a treat as the telescope continues to do its work.

You can see all the new images that James Webb captured and learn more about them on NASAs website.

NASA has a list of missions set aside from James Webb, and like NASAs other telescopes and spacecraft, the missions will continue to observe the early universe. Plenty of scientists have already put bids for James Webbs time, so its only a matter of time until James Webbs first full color images become a much larger collection.

And those images are going to tell us a lot. Theyre going to help give us a better understanding of the early universe, how black holes formed, and other things. NASA hasnt shared when we can expect the next images from James Webb to drop. But, if Hubbles past releases are anything to go by, we should expect plenty of future images from the new telescope.

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James Webb telescope first images of our galaxy's evolution are ... - BGR

Webb Space Telescope GSFC/NASA

The latest image from NASAs James Webb Space Telescope is a new perspective on the binary star Wolf-Rayet 140, revealing details and structure in a new light. More

Astronomer Ryan Lau of NSFs NOIRLab, principal investigator of the Webb Early Release Science program that observed the star, shares his thoughts on the observations.

"On the night that my teams Webb Early Release Science observations of the dust-forming massive binary star Wolf-Rayet (WR) 140 were taken, I was puzzled by what I saw in the preview images from Webbs Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). There seemed to be a strange-looking diffraction pattern, and I worried that it was a visual effect created by the stars extreme brightness. However, as soon as I downloaded the final data I realized that I was not looking at a diffraction pattern, but instead rings of dust surrounding WR 140 at least 17 of them.

I was amazed. Although they resemble rings in the Webb image, the true 3D geometry of those semi-circular features is better described as a shell. The shells of dust are formed each time the stars reach a point in their orbit where they are closest to each other and their stellar winds interact. The even spacing between the shells indicates that dust formation events are occurring like clockwork, once in each eight-year orbit. In this case, the 17 shells can be counted like tree rings, showing more than 130 years of dust formation. Our confidence in this interpretation of the image was strengthened by comparing our findings to the geometric dust models by Yinuo Han, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, which showed a near-perfect match to our observations.

Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, JPL-Caltech.

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Mock lava worlds will help the James Webb Space Telescope understand exoplanets – Space.com

Scientists have modeled the molten surfaces of 16 different types of lava worlds in the laboratory, creating a catalog of basic types of rocky exoplanet that astronomers using the James Webb Space Telescope can reference to characterize alien worlds.

Some terrestrial exoplanets orbit so close to their stars that temperatures reach up to 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit (3,000 degrees Celsius), melting their rocky surfaces. For example, the planet 55 Cancri e is a super-Earth more than eight times as massive as our planet that orbits its star every 18 hours at a distance of about 1.4 million miles (2.3 million kilometers), reaching surface temperatures of 4,200 F (2,300 C) on its dayside and 2,500 F (1,370 C) on its night side. As a result, its entire surface is covered by lava.

Now, a team of scientists has modeled and synthesized the various compositions of lava worlds, based on the abundance of heavy elements in these planets' stars. (Different stars have different compositions, and planets tend to reflect the composition of their parent star.) Then, by employing thermodynamic modeling to calculate how the compositions would behave, for example, on a planet with eight times the mass of Earth, the scientists created a catalog of 16 possible rock types that could be found on such lava worlds.

"Our catalog of volcanic exoplanet surfaces provides a tool to decipher what composes these worlds," Lisa Kaltenegger, a planetary scientist at Cornell University and a co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Related: 10 amazing exoplanet discoveries

Next, scientists actually created samples of these rocky materials in the lab of Cornell's Megan Holycross, a geochemist specializing in modeling Earth's interior. Once the samples had cooled, another co-author, Cornell's Marc-Antoine Fortin, measured the infrared reflection spectrum of each rock, which measures how much light of each infrared wavelength the rock reflects.

The scientists found that each sample had a spectral line at a wavelength of 8 microns, called the Christiansen feature, which is a previously known signature of silica-rich materials such as plagioclase, a common component of granite. The strength of this line can inform scientists which of the 16 compositional models a lava world most closely resembles.

"We are trying to understand not just exoplanets, but all rocky planets, including our own," Fortin said. "These lava worlds are like a time machine, because Earth was once lava, too."

The James Webb Space Telescope is observing the transit spectrum of lava planets including 55 Cancri e, Gliese 367b and K2-141b during its first year of science observations, and will likely observe many more in the future. The aim is that by matching the spectra that JWST measures with the Cornell catalog, astronomers will be able to more accurately characterize these worlds.

There may, however, by a spanner in the works. A 2020 paper from a team led by Zahra Essack, a Ph.D. student in exoplanetary sciences at MIT, found that some lava planets may have highly reflective metallic atmospheres of vaporized sodium, potassium and silica that could mask their molten surfaces. However, these planets would be quite bright, whereas lava is fairly dark, which could help scientists spot which planets are affected by the atmospheric masking.

The research was published Aug. 9 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Follow Keith Cooper on Twitter @21stCenturySETI. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Mock lava worlds will help the James Webb Space Telescope understand exoplanets - Space.com

The James Webb Space Telescope runs JavaScript, apparently – The Verge

It turns out that JavaScript, the programming language that web developers and users alike love to complain about, had a hand in delivering the stunning images that the James Webb Space Telescope has been beaming back to Earth. And no, I dont mean that in some snarky way, like that the website NASA hosts them on uses JavaScript (it does). I mean that the actual telescope, arguably one of humanitys finest scientific achievements, is largely controlled by JavaScript files. Oh, and its based on a software development kit from 2002.

According to a manuscript (PDF) for the JWSTs Integrated Science Instrument Module (or ISIM), the software for the ISIM is controlled by the Script Processor Task (SP), which runs scripts written in JavaScript upon receiving a command to do so. The actual code in charge of turning those JavaScripts (NASAs phrasing, not mine) into actions can run 10 of them at once.

The script processor is what really executes the tasks, but it gets instructions on what to do from the JavaScripts. Diagram: NASA

The manuscript and the paper (pdf) JWST: Maximizing efficiency and minimizing ground systems, written by the Space Telescope Science Institutes Ilana Dashevsky and Vicki Balzano, describe this process in great detail, but Ill oversimplify a bit to save you the pages of reading. The JWST has a bunch of these pre-written scripts for doing specific tasks, and scientists on the ground can tell it to run those tasks. When they do, those JavaScripts will be interpreted by a program called the script processor, which will then reach out to the other applications and systems that it needs to based on what the script calls for. The JWST isnt running a web browser where JavaScript directly controls the Mid-Infrared Instrument its more like when a manager is given a list of tasks (in this example, the JavaScripts) to do and delegates them out to their team.

The JavaScripts are just a part of the puzzle, but theyre an important one. Diagram: NASA

The JavaScripts are still very important, though the ISIM is the collection of instruments that actually take the pictures through the telescope, and the scripts control that process. NASA calls it the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope.

It seems a bit odd, then, that it uses such an old technology; according to Dashevsky and Balzano, the language the scripts are written in is called Nombas ScriptEase 5.00e. According to Nombas (now-defunct) website, the latest update to ScriptEase 5.00e was released in January 2003 yes, almost two decades ago. There are people who can vote who werent born when the software controlling some of the JWSTs most vital instruments came out.

This knowledge has been bubbling up on the internet in Hacker News and Twitter threads for years, but it still surprised quite a few of us here at The Verge once it actually clicked. At first blush, it just seems odd that such a vital (not to mention expensive) piece of scientific equipment would be controlled by a very old version of a technology thats not particularly known for being robust.

After thinking about it for a second, though, the softwares age makes a bit more sense while the JWST was launched in late 2021, the project has been in the works since 1989. When construction on the telescope started in 2004, ScriptEase 5 wouldve only been around two years old, having launched in 2002. Thats actually not particularly old, given that spacecraft are often powered by tried-and-true technology instead of the latest and greatest. Because of how long projects like the JWST take to (literally) get off the ground, things that had to be locked in early on can seem out of date by more conventional standards when launch day rolls around.

Its worth noting that, like the project itself, these documents that describe the JWSTs JavaScript system are pretty old; the one written by Dashevsky and Balzano is undated but came out in 2006, according to ResearchGate, and the ISIM manuscript is from 2011. (There does appear to have been a version published in 2010, but the one I read cites papers published in 2011.) Its always possible that NASA couldve changed the scripting system since then, but that seems like a pretty big undertaking that wouldve been mentioned somewhere. Also, while NASA didnt reply to The Verges request for comment, this JWST documentation page published in 2017 mentions event-driven science operations, which is pretty much exactly how the documents describe the JavaScript-based system.

This knowledge base, by the way, also contains a few more details on the telescopes 68 GB SSD, saying that it can hold somewhere between 58.8 and 65 gigabytes of actual scientific data. Wait, did I forget to mention that? Yes, this telescopes solid state drive has around the same capacity as the one that was available in the original 2008 MacBook Air.

Anyways, were not here to talk about the JWSTs storage. I feel like the big question at this point is why Javascript? Sure, theres probably a bit more angst about the language now than there was in the time when the projects engineers were selecting tech for the project, but NASA is famous among some programmers for its strict programming guidelines whats the point of going with web-like scripts instead of more traditional code?

Well, NASAs document says that this way of doing things gives operations personnel greater visibility, control and flexibility over the telescope operations, letting them easily change the scripts as they learn the ramifications and subtleties of operating the instruments. Basically, NASAs working with a bunch of files that are written in a somewhat human-readable format if they need to make changes, they can just open up a text editor, do a bunch of testing on the ground, then send the updated file to the JWST. Its certainly easier (and therefore likely less error-prone) than if every program was written in arcane code that youd have to recompile if you wanted to make changes.

A simplified diagram of the architecture from the Maximizing Efficiency paper. Image: Space Telescope Science Institute

If youre still worried, do note that the Space Telescope Science Institutes document mentions that the script processor itself is written in C++, which is known for being... well, the type of language youd want to use if you were programming a spacecraft. And its obviously working, right? The pictures are incredible, no matter what kind of code was run to generate them. It is, however, a fun piece of trivia next time youre cursing the modern web for being so slow and wishing that someone would just blast JavaScript into space, you can remember that NASA has, in fact, done that.

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The James Webb Space Telescope runs JavaScript, apparently - The Verge

How the James Webb Space Telescope will power the search for aliens – Inverse

Along with revealing the oldest galaxies in the universe and shedding light on the birth of stars, the James Webb Space Telescope will help us seek out life on other worlds if it exists. We talked to the experts about how the telescope will aid the search for habitable planets and whether it could spot something like a Dyson sphere, and where we should look.

If aliens exist, they need a place to live, so astronomers first goal with Webb will be to find exoplanets that are located in Earth-like temperatures where liquid water is likely to be stable.

But an address in the habitable zone doesnt guarantee a livable planet for instance, Venus, Earth, and Mars are all in the Suns habitable zone.

Every rocky body in our own Solar System seems to have a different atmospheric composition, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory astronomer Kevin Stevenson, whose team will use Webb to study nine exoplanets starting in July 2023, tells Inverse. "When you look at the four rocky planets in our own solar system, Venus has a very thick carbon dioxide atmosphere, Earth has a nitrogen-dominated atmosphere with oxygen, Mercury has a very thin nitrogen atmosphere, and then Mars has a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere.

Some habitable zone planets in other planetary systems could be worse off and not have atmospheres at all, which would eliminate a protective barrier from its star.

The next question, of course, will be what alien atmospheres are made of. And the possibilities are endless so much so that one of the first goals for researchers will be just trying to understand them.

This chart shows the spectrum of light from the atmosphere of (not habitable) exoplanet WASP-96b.NASA

To figure out which planets have the right stuff for life, Webb will help astronomers see how thick exoplanet atmospheres are and what theyre made of. As an exoplanet passes in front of its star, the starlight gets filtered through the exoplanet's atmosphere, where certain molecules absorb particular wavelengths of light. Webbs Near Infrared Spectrometer, or NIRSpec, can spot evidence of specific chemicals, such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor in the atmospheres of distant planets.

What we hope to see is signatures of carbon dioxide, which should have a really looming feature in this wavelength range. But it could also be that we see signatures of things like water, Nikole Lewis, a Cornell University astronomer, tells Inverse. Once we know how much carbon dioxide there is in the atmosphere, or how much water there is the atmosphere, what we can start to do is run scenarios for its climate.

Lewis and her team will start observing exoplanet TRAPPIST-1e in June 2023. The TRAPPIST-1 system has seven Earth-sized worlds, and TRAPPIST-1e is one of three that could be habitable under the right conditions. The teams first set of observations will focus on looking for carbon dioxide and figuring out if the planet has a thick, thin, or non-existent atmosphere. If carbon dioxide is found, subsequent observations will look for water and methane.

Is anyone home? If a world has the right conditions for life, astronomers next want to look for biosignatures chemicals potentially produced by living things in alien atmospheres. Biosignatures could include things like oxygen and methane, along with more obscure compounds like phosphine. But many of these chemicals can be produced by other means, including volcanoes.

Several rovers and landers have sniffed out methane (best known here on Earth for its starring role in cow flatulence) on Mars. But so far, planetary scientists are still debating whether methane on Mars came from trapped gasses from ancient volcanoes, or massive alien farts. Detection of phosphine in Venus atmosphere based on archival data announced in 2020 sparked heated debate on a few fronts: if phosphine is definitely tied to life, and if the phosphine was actually detected at all.

A common source of methane here on Earth.MEDITERRANEAN/E+/Getty Images

The debate on both Venus and Mars is still raging, and you can safely expect the first suggestion of biosignatures on an alien world to kickstart an even fiercer one.

Spotting aliens via pollution SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researchers like Pennsylvania State University astronomer Jason Wright say data from Webb may make it possible to take the search for aliens a step further: looking for evidence of advanced civilizations with the technology to change their worlds.

Sort of a newish thread in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is seeing what atmospheric pollutants we might be able to detect, Wright tells Inverse.

Here on Earth, the most prolific pollutant in our atmosphere is carbon dioxide, but from a cosmic distance, it wouldnt be obvious that a supposedly-intelligent species put it there. After all, Venus atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide that occurred naturally.

Instead, Wright suggests looking for pollution thats harder to pin on natural causes, like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), widely used as coolants, propellants, or solvents from the 1920s to the late 1980s. CFCs arent produced by natural processes and were largely responsible for the hole in the ozone layer. CFCs could be a sign of an alien civilization advanced enough to create artificial chemicals and pollute their atmosphere.

They're a very small component of the atmosphere, but they're actually quite detectable, says Wright, who along with his colleagues recently ran some computer simulations to find out whether Webbs instruments might be able to spot CFCs in the atmosphere of an exoplanet.

It turned out that although CFCs and nitrogen compounds produced by fertilizers would be difficult for Webb to pick out in an exoplanets atmosphere, its technically possible. (The study used TRAPPIST-1e as an example.) Wright describes it as borderline, and says hes encouraged by the result.

Just the fact that the first [chemical] we checked, there's a planet where it's borderline possible, really shows that we're right at the cusp of being able to detect these kinds of atmospheric technosignatures, he says.

Artists conception of Alien Planets In Orbit Around A Dyson Sphere, Constructed By A Type 2 Civilization.Michael Stevenson/UIG/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images

What about Dyson spheres and alien megastructures? Webb, of course, cant help us look for alien radio signals, because its an infrared telescope, not a radio telescope. But it may be an excellent tool for finding really dramatic technosignatures, like Dyson spheres, planet-sized ways to capture a stars energy.

JWST should actually be quite good for things with Dyson spheres, because it's in the infrared, and it goes out long enough in the infrared that something like a Dyson sphere should be emitting in a way that it can detect, Wright says.

But the Space Telescope Science Institute, the organization that manages Webb as well as the Hubble Space Telescope, is vanishingly unlikely to grant observation time to a search for Dyson spheres. Instead, Wright suggests that it could be used to get a closer look at star systems where something unusual and possibly megastructure-like seems to be happening.

Wright was involved with a team that looked at an oddly dimming star called KIC 8462852 or Boyajians Star. Among many speculations for why it kept blotting out was the possibility of a Dyson sphere. Astronomers taking a closer look at the system found that an unusually large amount of dust was the culprit, but Wright points out that even if Webb doesnt find aliens at the next version of Boyajians Star, That will be sufficiently interesting in its own right, even aside from technosignatures.

One thing Lewiss and Stevensons research has in common is that both focus on rocky planets, like our Earth, orbiting small, relatively cool stars called red dwarfs, not at all like our Sun. TRAPPIST-1 is a red dwarf, as is Proxima Centauri and the recently-discovered SPECULOOS-2, both of which have habitable zone planets. Of the 21 known habitable zone planets likeliest to have the right temperature for life, 19 orbit red dwarfs, according to the Planetary Habitability Laboratory.

Trappist-1 is a red-dwarf star, the most common variety, located some 40 light-years away in Aquarius. In 2015, astronomers discovered that Trappist-1 was host to three earth-sized planets. Then it came under the spotlight again in 2017 when NASA scientists found an additional four planets, taking the total up to seven. This is the most terrestrial planets that have ever been found to orbit a single star, including our own Solar System. Trappist-1 is only fractionally larger than Jupiter in diameter. This image shows the star and six of the planets as they would appear from the vantage point of the fifth outermost planet, Trappist-1f. All of the planets and the Sun are to scale. One of the worlds is seen transiting in front of the star.MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Because theyre small, cool, and slow-burning, they form more often and live longer than brighter, more massive stars. In addition to their sheer numbers, a habitable zone planet orbits in a shorter amount of time around a much dimmer star than the Sun, allowing astronomers to take several glimpses of a planet as it passes in front of its star and coax out more details whether for atmospheres or for CFC-like technosignatures.

Having small stars really helps us in terms of measuring that signal, says Stevenson. All nine of the planets in his teams observations orbit red dwarfs, and hes a member of the Consortium for Habitability and Atmospheres of M-dwarf Planets, or CHAMPs.

Nobody knows when or if Webb or any other telescope or SETI project will find evidence of life on another world. But the odds of finding a habitable world, or even potential biosignatures are high enough that several teams of astronomers and astrobiologists have been granted valuable time on the telescope to look for them.

At this point, a better question might be How will we know if Webb has found aliens? And thats an even tougher question to answer.

Even when we start to get some sense that [a planet] is habitable, it has an atmosphere, and maybe the surface isn't a hellscape, it's gonna take time and a lot of discussion among the community to say that this combination of molecules in the atmosphere is indicative of life, says Lewis.

The best ammunition in that kind of scientific debate is more data. For instance, to figure out whats actually happening on a distant world, astronomers will probably have to look for certain combinations of chemicals ozone and water vapor, for instance instead of just a single biomarker.

Webb might also help scientists measure how much of a particular chemical is present in the planets atmosphere. If, for instance, theres a very tiny amount of methane, researchers can compare that information to models of how the planets geology and atmosphere might work, which could shed some light on whether microbes, alien cows, or volcanic vents are more likely to produce exactly that amount of methane. But its still going to be an extremely tough question to answer with any certainty.

And just like biosignatures, finding one potential pollutant, like CFCs, in a planets atmosphere isnt the same thing as finding proof of alien life. Its more of a strong hint.

It's not quite the smoking gun that finding radio waves would be. If we found narrowband radio signals coming from space, that can only technological, says Wright. It's not 100 percent until you find some other signal that is 100 percent or lots of different [chemicals], all of which are probably technological.


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How the James Webb Space Telescope will power the search for aliens - Inverse

Behold the 1st images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope!

The wait is finally over.

The team behind NASA's James Webb Space Telescope released some of the first images from the much-anticipated observatory on Friday (Feb. 11). The main photo, which doesn't even hint at the power Webb will bring to the universe once it's fully operational, shows a star called HD 84406 and is only a portion of the mosaic taken over 25 hours beginning on Feb. 2, during the ongoing process to align the observatory's segmented mirror.

"The entire Webb team is ecstatic at how well the first steps of taking images and aligning the telescope are proceeding," Marcia Rieke, principal investigator of the instrument that Webb relies on for the alignment procedure and an astronomer at the University of Arizona, said in a NASA statement (opens in new tab).

Live updates: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope missionRelated: How the James Webb Space Telescope works in pictures

JWST is now 48 days out from its Christmas Day launch and in the midst of a commissioning process expected to last about six months. The telescope spent the first month unfolding from its launch configuration and trekking out nearly 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from Earth.

During the bulk of the remaining time, scientists are focusing on waking and calibrating the observatory's instruments and making the minute adjustments to the telescope's 18 golden mirror segments that are necessary for crisp, clear images of the deep universe.

The process is going well, according to NASA.

"This initial search covered an area about the size of the full moon because the segment dots could potentially have been that spread out on the sky," Marshall Perrin, the deputy telescope scientist for Webb and an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, said in the same statement. "Taking so much data right on the first day required all of Webb's science operations and data processing systems here on Earth working smoothly with the observatory in space right from the start. And we found light from all 18 segments very near the center early in that search! This is a great starting point for mirror alignment."

Still, the telescope has a long way to go, as today's image of HD 84406 shows.

"The first images are going to be ugly," Jane Rigby, Webb operations project scientist, said during a news conference held on Jan. 8 as the telescope began the process of unstowing its mirrors. "It is going to be blurry. We'll [have] 18 of these little images all over the sky."

And the photograph does indeed show multiple views of HD 84406, the star that JWST scientists recently announced they had chosen to look at first. "Star light, star bright the first star Webb will see is HD 84406, a sun-like star about 260 light-years away," NASA officials wrote on Twitter (opens in new tab) on Jan. 28.

HD 84406 is in the constellation Ursa Major, or Big Bear, but is not visible from Earth without a telescope. But it was a perfect early target for Webb because its brightness is steady and the observatory can always spot it, so launch or deployment delays wouldn't affect the plan.

Oddly, JWST won't be able to observe HD 84406 later in its tenure; once the telescope is focused, this star will be too bright to look at. Previously, JWST personnel have said that the telescope will be seeing fairly sharply by late April.

Even as the JWST works to hone its vision, a second key process is taking place in the background as the observatory sends the remaining heat from its time on Earth out into space. Because Webb is tuned to study the universe in infrared light, which also registers as heat, the observatory must be incredibly cold to obtain accurate data.

NASA scientists expect that the golden primary mirror will reach temperatures as low as minus 370 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 223 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Kelvin); instruments must be even colder, according to an agency statement (opens in new tab).

In addition to the image of HD 84406, NASA also shared a "selfie" image that the observatory took using a special lens targeting the observatory's primary mirror to assist during the alignment process.

All told, scientists are thrilled about the observatory's progress.

"Launching Webb to space was of course an exciting event, but for scientists and optical engineers, this is a pinnacle moment, when light from a star is successfully making its way through the system down onto a detector," Michael McElwain, Webb observatory project scientist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said in the statement.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Behold the 1st images from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope!

The 10 biggest telescopes on Earth – Space.com

The biggest telescopes in the world are often the most successful at making new space discoveries, due to their ability to collect more light and delve into the universe's history from impressive distances.

Despite space observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) being closer to the action, ground-based telescopes can achieve greater dimensions and are far less restricted by weight. When telescopes on Earth are built in a good location, with wide sky views, they can focus on a range of specific areas or events unlike space telescopes which need to be in the right place at the right time.

Some of the largest telescopes are serving as Earth's eyes to explore supernovas, galaxies and other distant objects. Here are the ten biggest telescopes in action and in progress today.

Related: 15 stunning places on Earth that look like they're from another planet

Location: Texas, United States

Type: Optical

Diameter: 32 feet (10 meters)

Before its success as one of the world's largest optical telescopes, Hobby Eberly's design was unique. One element that helped make it stand out from existing telescopes was that its mirror is always tilted 55 degrees up from the horizon. This might sound restricting, but its rotating mechanism means it can still observe 70 percent of the visible sky. The telescope's mirror has 91 hexagonal segments to collect visible light.

The most noteworthy discovery captured by Hobby Eberly was light that originated from a quasar so far away that the Earth was only an eighth of its current age when this light began traveling towards Earth. A quasar is an incredibly bright object that gains its energy from a supermassive black hole.

Location: Maunakea, Hawaii

Type: Optical and Infrared

Diameter: 32.8 feet (10 meters)

Despite being Earth-based, the twin telescopes at the Keck Observatory can see farther into space than the famous Hubble Telescope. This means that around a quarter of the observations made by U.S. astronomers are achieved using Keck, and it is considered the most scientifically productive of all land telescopes.

By incorporating optical and infrared telescopes, the observatory produces clear images in the visible light spectrum, but also allows astronomers to see deeper into space using infrared. Some of the incredible imagery uncovered by this combination of apparatus include the birth of stars, which can produce a visible glow and also heat up surrounding gas that can be detected using infrared.

The observatory is positioned near the equator and at the top of the dormant Hawaiian volcano, Mauna Kea. There are 36 mirrors that make up each telescope, joined together to make one large panel. Concealed in insulated domes, the two telescopes operate at temperatures slightly below freezing to prevent heat from interfering with the infrared images.

Location: La Palma, Spain

Type: Optical-infrared

Diameter: 34.1 feet (10.4 meters)

This telescope discovered the most densely populated galaxy cluster.

Location: Karoo, South Africa

Type: Optical

Diameter: 36 feet (11 meters)

The design of SALT appears almost identical to Hobby Eberly because it was inspired by the success of its predecessor. SALT has the same number of hexagonal panels as Hobby Eberly but was redesigned to improve its field of view and image quality. The mirrors of SALT also have a higher sensitivity to short wavelengths, due to additional layers of metal being added to them. Among SALT's top discoveries is the first white dwarf pulsar. This is a fast-spinning star remnant of a white dwarf.

Location: Atacama desert, Chile

Type: Radio

Diameter: 39.4 feet (12 meters)

ALMA consists of 66 radio telescopes, with 54 measuring 39.4 feet (12 meters) in diameter and the remaining 12 just 23 feet (seven meters). Collectively known as an astronomical interferometer, each of these antennas works together to create one image. When this array is used in different combinations, the range of visibility varies. This is essential for targeting the desired galactic areas.

One of the groundbreaking discoveries made by ALMA was the most distant oxygen in space. This is a record that the telescopes have broken more than once. The furthest detection of oxygen in space was 13.28 billion light-years away and evidence of this was picked up by ALMA in 2018. Due to the expansion of the universe, the infrared light that had been emitted from this oxygen was converted into microwaves as it stretched. The signal came from ionized oxygen in the galaxy MACS1149-JD1.

Location: Atacama desert, Chile

Type: Optical

Diameter: 80 feet (24.5 meters)

The GMT, set to be complete in 2029, could produce images 10 times clearer than Hubble.

Location: Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Type: Optical-infrared

Diameter: 98 feet (30 meters)

This project is currently in progress, as part of a collaboration between Japan (the National Institutes of Natural Sciences and National Astronomical Observatory), the U.S. (Caltech and the University of California), Canada (National Research Council Canada), China (National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences), and India (the Department of Science and Technology of India).

Its name gives away the measurement of the large primary mirror which will consist of 492 hexagonal panels. Between each 56.6-inch (1.44-meter) tessellated mirror is a gap of just 2.5 millimeters (0.1 inches). The site of this telescope is at an altitude of 13,163 feet (4,012 meters) and will be used to analyze black holes at the heart of the Milky Way and other galaxies.

Location: Australia and South Africa

Type: Phased array, radio

Diameter: 512 x 49.2 feet (512 x 15 meters)

Although the individual size of each of these telescopes isn't as grand as some of the previous entries, the anticipated scale of this construction is much greater. Chosen for their extremely remote lands, the Karoo region of South Africa and Murchison Shire of Western Australia are due to host the massive radio telescope arrays. In Australia, which is planned to be home to the largest of these sites initially, there will be 512 telescope stations, while 200 will be situated in South Africa.

Scientists estimate that the result of this project will be telescope arrays that are 100 times more sensitive than today's top sites and a sky surveying time that is around one million times faster. The targeted completion date is in 2028 and the arrays are expected to be used for around five decades.

Location: Atacama desert, Chile

Type: Optical-infrared

Diameter: 128 feet (39.3 meters)

Designed by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the Extremely Large Telescope (which is due to be completed in 2027) also holds extremely lofty goals. These include discovering Earth-like planets and searching for life beyond the Solar System.

Due to its significant mirror surface area of 10,527 square feet (978 square meters), the ELT will be able to collect 100,000,000 times more light than the human eye. The telescope will be encased in a huge, 262-foot (80-meter) tall rotating dome, which will weigh approximately 6,000 tonnes. The strong foundations for this telescope were completed at the beginning of 2022.

Location: Guizhou, China

Type: Radio

Diameter: 1,640 feet (500 meters)

The FAST opened in 2020 and is currently the world's largest single-dish ground telescope.

To stay up to date with the latest news from the FAST telescope, visit the FAST website (opens in new tab). Alternatively, to read more about the Thirty Meter Telescope, you can visit the TMT International Observatory website (opens in new tab).

"Up Above the World so High (opens in new tab)". W.M. Keck Observatory (2022).

"Introducing the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (opens in new tab)". Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (2020).

"South African Telescope, Patterned After Hobby-Eberly Telescope, Sees First Light (opens in new tab)". Penn State Eberly College of Science (2005).

"ALMA, In search of our cosmic origins (opens in new tab)". European Southern Observatory (ESO) (2020).

"ALMA Finds Most-Distant Oxygen in the Universe (opens in new tab)". ALMA (2018).

"TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) (opens in new tab)". National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) (2022).

"The SKA Project (opens in new tab)". SKA Telescope (2022).

"5M grant awarded to Cavendish Astrophysics to build "brains" of the world's largest radio telescope (opens in new tab)". University of Cambridge (2022).

"The Extremely Large Telescope: The World's Biggest Eye on the Sky (opens in new tab)". European Southern Observatory (ESO) (2022).

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The 10 biggest telescopes on Earth - Space.com