There was some pretty significant news from the astronomical world today. If your Twitter feed is anything like mine, you’ve probably seen this image a LOT this afternoon:
This is a “deep field” image from the newly commissioned JWST. I’m giving you the full-sized image, so feel free to click on it and blow it up to explore the details. The bright spots with the six-pointed star image are foreground stars (the reflections are internal to the JWST) but everything else is a galaxy. Thousands of galaxies.
In addition, you can see some that are smeared out into curved lines, some with mirror images side-by-side. These are galaxies that lie behind a much bigger galaxy or even a black hole but the light from them has been bent by the graviation of the larger object stretching the fabric of space. There are some gorgeous, bigger (i.e., nearer) spiral galaxies, as well as some tiny, dark red spots that are the oldest galaxies in the image, back close to 13,000,000,000 years old, close to the beginning of the universe.
This image was released by the White House tonight at a press conference with the President and Vice-President. JWST is going to be a big deal, as far beyond the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) as HST was beyond ground-based telescopes thirty-two years ago.
Better yet, tomorrow morning there’s a NASA press conference where they’ll be giving us our first views of other new images from JWST. I know you can see it on NASA-TV, it may also be viewable on other sites.
And if you want to see bits of JWST hardware in the clean room at Goddard Space Center from my NASA Social there in 2015, check out this memory.