The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the largest optical telescope in space, primarily designed to conduct infrared astronomy. Its high infrared sensitivity and resolution allow it to view objects unable to be observed by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). JWST is expected to enable a wide range of investigations across the fields of cosmology and astronomy.
The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on December 25, 2021, from Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5 rocket and arrived at the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point in January 2022. NASA led JWST's development in conjunction with the ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland managed the telescope's development, and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore operates JWST.,
The first full-color images and spectroscopic data were unveiled by President Biden on July 12, 2022, marking the beginning of JWST's general science operations. The first image, known as Webb's First Deep Field, is the sharpest and deepest infrared image of the distant universe to date. The image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail as thousands of galaxies, including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared, have appeared in view for the first time.
JWST shows the edge of a gigantic, gaseous cavity within NGC 3324, roughly 7,600 light-years away inside the Carina Nebula. The nearby, young, star-forming region looks much like ragged mountains, and the intense ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds from massive, hot, young stars in the center have carved the cavernous area from the nebula above the area shown in this image. The high-energy radiation from these stars sculpts the nebula's wall by slowly eroding it away. This period of early star formation is incredibly difficult to capture. However, JWST's extreme sensitivity and exquisite spatial resolution have captured this rare event and given us a look at star formation that we have never seen before.
The bright star at the center of the image of planetary nebula NGC 3132 seems like it is the star of the show. However, the star plays a supporting role in sculpting the surrounding nebula. A second star, barely visible in the lower left, is the main attraction and the nebula's source. Over thousands of years, it has ejected at least eight layers of gas, creating this stunning visual display in near-infrared. The bright, central star has helped stir the nebula, changing the shape of the intricate rings by creating turbulence. But the pair of stars are locked in a tight orbit, which leads the dimmer star to spray ejected material in various directions as they orbit one another, resulting in jagged rings. However, this is not only a crisp image of a planetary nebula; it also shows objects in the far reaches of space behind it. The transparent red sections of the planetary nebula and all the areas outside it are filled with distant galaxies.
NASA, ESA, and CSA scientists have described that nearly across the board, the performance of the James Webb Space Telescope is better than expected.