Understanding the James Webb Space Telescope and How It Works

James Webb Space Telescope released the first high-resolution images on Tuesday (12/7). NASA released the image via television broadcast from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The released images show a number of galaxies, the phases of stellar death, and insight into how the universe formed.

Quoted from NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope displays an image of the universe taken with the deepest infrared technology. The telescope was launched on December 25, 2021 on an Ariane 5 rocket from Spaceport Europe in French Guiana, South America.

After completing a complex series of deployments in space, the James Webb Space Telescope underwent several months of activity commissioning, i.e. the alignment of the 18 main mirror segments for perfect focusing of the telescope. The instrument is calibrated to the space environment and prepared to capture images and data.

Getting to know the James Webb Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope (NASA)

Launching NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope is a large infrared telescope with a main mirror measuring 6.5 meters. Telescope it becomes the main observatory that will study every phase in the history of the universe. Starting from the first light after the Big Bang, the formation solar systemto its evolution.

Previously, the Webb Telescope was named the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST). In September 2002, the telescope was renamed after a NASA administrator, James Webb. The telescope is planned to orbit the sun at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

The Webb Telescope is an international collaboration of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). This telescope is the largest telescope ever launched into space. Its power is 100 times greater than the Hubble Telescope.

The Webb Telescope has five layers of sun protection. Its function is to protect the telescope from infrared radiation from the sun, earth, and moon. With infrared sensitivity technology, this telescope can look back in time up to 13.5 billion years to see the first galaxies born after the Big Bang.

The Webb telescope has four instruments, namely Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), and Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) with Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS).

With this technology, scientists will use telescopes to study planets and other objects in the solar system, determine their origin and evolution, and compare them with exoplanets, which are planets orbiting other stars.

The Webb telescope will also observe exoplanets located in the habitable zone, detect areas where a planet can harbor water on its surface, and can determine signs of a planet’s habitability.

How the James Webb Space Telescope Works

Images from the James Webb Space Telescope provide important data for scientists to understand the origin of the universe. The telescope is designed to view ultraviolet and visible light emitted from space objects with a resolution and sensitivity that has never been used before.

Data from telescopes is used to make scientific observations and broaden the understanding of the universe. The first image released, called “First Deep Field Webb,” shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723. The cluster in the image is 4.6 billion years old.

Galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 that appeared 4.6 billion years ago

Galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 that appeared 4.6 billion years ago (NASA)

The sensors in the Webb Telescope measure energy and send data to observatories on Earth, where researchers process it so that it can be seen by the human eye. Using a technique called transmission spectroscopy, the observatory will examine starlight filtered through the planet’s atmosphere to study its chemical composition.

In the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, telescope spectrographs reveal the chemical composition of a galaxy 13.1 billion light-years away. In this distant galaxy, scientists have found levels of oxygen, hydrogen, and neon.

Using the Webb Telescope, researchers can see very distant galaxies that occurred about 13.8 billion years ago using infrared wavelengths. This is crucial for understanding and seeing how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang.

The main purpose of the Webb Telescope is to study the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets in the universe. In other words, the Webb Telescope can look into the past of the universe about a quarter of a billion years after the Big Bang, when the first stars and galaxies began to form.

After launch, the Webb Telescope is designed to be operational for at least five years and could last longer than 10 years. The operational life of the telescope is limited by the amount of fuel used and the possibility of components that degrade over time.

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