‘Deepest image of our universe’ to be revealed by Nasa on July 12

First scientific pictures taken by James Webb Space Telescope set for public release

The hexagonal shape of the James Webb Telescope's mirrors and its filters made this shimmering star look more red and spiky. Some photos have already been taken by James Webb to test the telescope, but now the scientific operations have started and new images will be revealed next month. Photo: Nasa / AP
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Nasa will release the "deepest image of the universe" on July 12, the first of the scientific photographs taken by the space agency’s $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope.

The in-depth, full-colour pictures will depict places much further away taken those by the Hubble Space Telescope of galaxies formed a few hundred million years after the birth of the universe.

The Hubble was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation.

Nasa officials held a virtual media briefing on Wednesday, to offer an idea of what the pictures taken by the world’s most powerful space telescope would reveal.

Some photos have already been taken by James Webb to test the telescope, but now the science operations have started.

“We are going to give humanity a new view of the cosmos, it’s a view we have never seen before,” said Bill Nelson, Nasa’s administrator.

“One of those images is the deepest image of our universe that has ever been taken.

“This is further than humanity has ever looked before and we’re only beginning to understand what Webb can and will do.

“It will explore objects in the solar system, atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, giving us clues if their atmospheres are similar to our own.”

This combination of images provided by Nasa on May 9, 2022, shows part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, seen by the retired Spitzer Space Telescope, left, and the new James Webb Space Telescope. That photo taken by James Webb was to test out the telescope. Photo: Nasa

Scientific images are produced within a specific discipline for research purposes and those to be presented on July 12 are likely to include a spectrum of planets outside of our solar system.

This could help astronomers to find out how the planet was formed.

“It may answer some questions that we have, where do we come from, what more is out there, who are we and of course it’ll answer some questions that we don’t even know what the questions are,” said Mr Nelson.

“In many ways, Webb’s journey has just begun.”

It was also revealed that the telescope, which took more than 20 years to build and was launched in December, has enough fuel for 20 years of operation.

Pamela Melroy, deputy administrator of Nasa, said it will be the focus of the space agency’s astrophysics mission.

“Not only will those 20 years allow us to go deeper into history and time, but we’ll go deeper in science because we have the time to learn and grow and make new observations,” she said.

Described as a time-travel machine, the space observatory is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble, which for 31 years has made countless discoveries and provided millions of images of planets, galaxies, nebulas and stars.

It is orbiting the Sun, in a place called the Lagrange Point — a position in space that allows the telescope to reach deeper into the universe.

The observatory’s cameras are so sensitive they can spot the heat signature of a bumblebee on the Moon's surface.

James Webb Telescope launch - in pictures

Updated: June 30, 2022, 11:26 AM
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