The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which has been online for only a few months, is already grabbing attention for its incredible views of the universe. Recently, astronomers focused on Jupiter and Neptune, capturing stunning images of our nearby planets.
Holy cosmos, have you seen the Jupiter image? It’s so detailed you can see in detail, the auroras at the poles! And check out that outer atmosphere – talk about out of this world! I can’t help but daydream about booking a vacation at an orbiting hotel around Jupiter. I know it’s a long shot, but in the next 100 years, who knows what space tourism will be like? The ISS is the closest venue we have at the moment. But let’s be honest, just watching the clouds zoom around Jupiter would be enough to make a grown man cry tears of pure joy.
Okay, buckle up, space cadets, because I’ve got some mind-blowing news: Saturn isn’t the only planet with killer rings! That’s right, Neptune’s got some rings of its own, baby! Feast your eyes on the pic below of Neptune and seven of its 14 moons. See that shiny star up top? That’s Triton, Neptune’s big daddy moon.
Now, don’t get it twisted – this pic isn’t as crystal clear as the one of Jupiter. Why do you ask? Well, let me drop some science on you: Jupiter swings by our planet at a mere 367 million miles at its closest. But Neptune? That bad boy is a whopping 2.7 billion miles away at its closest approach. That’s over seven times farther than Jupiter! Think about it – that’s how vast and crazy our solar system is. Can I get a “whoa, dude!”?
JWST will likely find a vast number of exoplanets as well. There have currently been over 5,000 exoplanets discovered using other telescopes such as Hubble. That number will drastically change in the coming years.
The Carina Nebula photo is by far my favorite. JWST can see much further into the infrared spectrum allowing it to peer through clouds of dust and gas. The difference is astonishing. This is a side-by-side comparison of Hubble on the left and JWST on the right of the same patch of sky.
One of the first images it captured was a deep field image that blew our minds. See those stars with spikes or lines coming off them? Those are stars from our very own Milky Way. But check this out – everything else in this photo is another galaxy! And get this – it took over 13 billion years for the light from some of these galaxies to reach us. That means we’re seeing galaxies as they were at the dawn of the universe! Astronomers were shocked to discover so many large, well-formed galaxies from that long ago.
This discovery has got some people thinking that the universe is older than we thought or that the Big Bang didn’t happen as we thought it did. You know how people love a good conspiracy theory, and pseudoscientists are no exception. But don’t worry; the Big Bang Theory is still standing on solid ground. All this image proves is that we have much more to learn about our universe.
Honestly, I can’t even wrap my head around the sheer size of some of the structures in this image. They’re so massive that they cause entire galaxies behind them to bend! But you know those conspiracy theorists – they’ll try to leap across those structures to make their crazy theories sound plausible. Let’s stick to the facts, people, and keep exploring the mysteries of the cosmos.
This image shows that galaxies were more extensive and more plentiful than predicted. The Big Bang model will need adjusting because of it, but that doesn’t disprove it at all. It just shows we have a lot to learn still. With JWST and a new generation of telescopes in the pipeline, our understanding of the universe will likely be drastically different in the coming decades.
JWST has been in development since 1996, and its original launch date was set for 2007. However, a complete redesign in 2005 pushed the completion date to 2016. After an additional six years of testing, the telescope finally launched on Christmas Day 2021. JWST’s primary function is to capture images of the cosmos in infrared light, which is emitted by objects that are too cold to emit visible light.
The telescope needs to be kept very cold to prevent interference from heat sources like the sun and the Earth, much like night vision goggles. To achieve this, NASA placed JWST in orbit at the Earth’s L2 LaGrange point and equipped it with a massive heat shield the size of a tennis court. This shield helps the telescope operate at near absolute zero temperatures, ensuring accurate readings.
You can see Webb’s current temperatures on the “Where is Webb website.”