From birth to death of stars, Webb telescope reveals first images

One by one, the spectacular color images of the universe obtained by the James Webb Space Telescope were revealed: the South Ring nebula, the Stephan Quintet, the Carina nebula and the spectrum of the exoplanet WASP-b were this Tuesday (12) the protagonists of this first album.

In a live broadcast commanded by the American space agency Nasa and with the participation of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), images of these four cosmic objects were revealed after the first one was released on Monday, in an event that was attended by the US president, Joe Biden: the SMACS galaxy cluster 0732, as it was 4.6 billion years ago.

Each revelation was followed by moments of silence and exclamations of astonishment. The first photo shown was of the Southern Ring nebula: the James Webb revealed details of it that were previously hidden from astronomers.

Nebulosa planetária catalogada como NGC 3132, e conhecida informalmente como a nebulosa do Anel Sul, capturada por duas câmeras a bordo do telescópio James Webb. Foto: EFE/EPA/NASA, ESA, CSA e STScI
Planetary nebula cataloged as NGC 3132, and known informally as the South Ring nebula, captured by two cameras aboard the James Webb telescope. Photo: EFE/EPA/NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI

The photograph shows a dying star in the center of the scene which has been spewing rings of gas and dust in all directions for thousands of years. The nebula is about 2,500 light-years away, and Webb will be able to delve into many other specific details about planetary nebulae like this one: Understanding which molecules are present and where they are found along the layers of gas and dust will help researchers to refine your knowledge of these objects.

Webb also provided an incredible new view of Stephan’s Quintet, a cluster of five galaxies – four of which interact with each other – located at 290 millions of light years away. The image and its data provide new insights into how interactions may have driven the evolution of galaxies in the early universe and information about the evolution of black holes and galaxies.

Quinteto de Stephan, um agrupamento visual de cinco galáxias, em uma nova luz captada pelo telescópio Webb. Foto: EFE/EPA/NASA, ESA, CSA e STScI

Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, in new light captured by the telescope Webb. Photo: EFE/EPA/NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI

Astronomer Giovanna Giardino explained that four of these galaxies perform “a cosmic dance” carried by its gravitational forces. The image also shows the matter that surrounds a black hole.

This is the largest Webb image to date, covering about one-fifth of the Moon’s diameter and created from nearly 1,000 image files. individual images.

Last to be shown was that of the Carina nebula, the most exciting in its spectacular nature and revealing for the first time previously invisible regions of stellar birth. This landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” dotted with bright stars is actually the edge of a nearby region of young star formation, called the NGC 3324, in the Carina nebula. Webb’s three-dimensional image appears to show rugged mountains on a moonlit night.

Less spectacular, but equally important to astronomers, were the first spectrographic data for the exoplanet WASP-96 b, located at 1.150 light years from us.

The heads of the three space agencies involved in the Webb agreed that the new telescope will not only answer many questions , but will also raise others that we have not yet imagined, and highlighted the importance of international cooperation for this project.

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