More than 20 years ago, a team of scientists set out to build the most powerful telescope ever put into space. That telescope is now in orbit and we’ve gotten our first clear image.
The James Webb telescope was launched last December. It took until January to reach its post of one million miles from earth. Even that far away, the $10 billion telescope has to be meticulously operated and calibrated just right to work properly.
The James Webb will enable scientists to see all the way back to when the first stars and galaxies formed around 13.7 billion years ago. It’ll be able to scan other atmospheres for signs of life.
We’ll get the full scale of this telescope’s abilities this summer, but we have now gotten the first clear image back to earth during a test.
This is the first clear image from the James Webb. This star is 2,000 light-years away. Meaning, this is how it looked two-thousand years ago. That’s when ancient Rome ruled the Mediterranean. The near-infrared camera is so sensitive that it’s picking up other galaxies and stars in the background as well.
The star’s official name is 2MASS J17554042+6551277 and it was a part of a test for the telescope. In a press release, NASA says this test exceeded their expectation in quality, which fuels the excitement for more to come.