NASA’s new telescope which is designed primarily to conduct Infrared Astronomy captures its first Image. Nasa on Thursday in a blog said “Following the completion of critical mirror alignment steps, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope team expects that Webb’s optical performance will be able to meet or exceed the science goals the observatory was built to achieve.”
The James Web Telescope was launched on 25 Dec 2021 from a launch site at Kourou French Guiana. The telescope will orbit L2 (Lagrange point 2 ), a wonderful accident of gravity and orbital mechanics where the gravity from the Sun and Earth balances the orbit of the satellite. The James web telescope carries four scientific instruments Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec),Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph/Fine Guidance Sensor (NIRISS/FGS).
Earlier this week the telescope completed the important stage of alignment known as “fine phasing”, and every optical parameter has performed well so far as reported by Nasa.
The telescope captured its first image of a star known as HD84406 which is 258.5 light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major. But what is more fascinating is the fact that every little dot of light in the image represents a galaxy billion’s of Light years away.
Jane Rigby, Webb operations project scientist said, “The telescope’s performance so far is everything that we dared to hope, The engineering images that we saw today are as sharp and as crisp as the images that Hubble can take, but are at a wavelength of light that is invisible to Hubble. So this is making the invisible universe snap into very, very sharp focus”.
“We have fully aligned and focused the telescope on a star, and the performance is beating specifications. We are excited about what this means for science,” said Ritva Keski-Kuha, deputy optical telescope element manager for Webb at NASA Goddard.