The first picture from the James Webb Space Telescope has been revealed. The image was made public by NASA and shows a look back more than 13 billion years at the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723. This is the same cluster that Hubble has previously taken an image of.
Avid astronomy fans have been quick to compare the images from the Hubble telescope and the new James Webb.
They have both taken images of the galaxy cluster, Smacs 0723, and you can see the marked difference in resolution and clarity.
We take a closer look at these images side by side, as well as explain the other major differences between the Hubble and James Webb telescopes.
James Webb Telescope shares the deepest view of the universe ever
NASA has shared the first image from the James Webb Telescope, showing the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant Universe ever seen before. The image is known as Webb’s First Deep Field and shows Smacs 0723 in all its glory.
The image was taken by Webb’s near-infrared camera and it is a composite of different images taken at various wavelengths.
The James Webb telescope observes primarily in infrared wavelengths and has four instruments to capture images. This wavelength, invisible to the human eye, can show the light emitted by regions where stars and planets are forming.
Scientists and engineers worked for over 20 years to complete the telescope, which cost over $10 billion. This image of the Smacs 0723 galaxy cluster is the first image of several that will be released in the coming days.
What is SMACS 0723?
SMACS 0723, aka SMACS J0723.3-7327, is a cluster of galaxies. It is a patch of sky that can be seen from the Southern Hemisphere of the earth in the constellation of Volans.
According to the European Space Agency (ESA) the combined mass of this galaxy cluster “acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it.”
This new image has revealed this galaxy cluster in much more detail than ever seen before, with new structures, star clusters and unique features.
Through this image, and further images from the James Webb telescope, scientists hope to learn more about the age, mass, compositions and history of these spectacular galaxies.
What’s the difference between the SMACS 0723 image from Hubble vs James Webb?
Astronomy fans, academics and enthusiasts have been pouring over the new image from the James Webb telescope. The latest image shows the Smacs 0723 galaxy cluster as it was around 4.6 billion years ago.
Astronomy Professor from the University of Washington, Emily Levesque, shared an impressive gif on her Twitter account showing the vast improvements in detail between the Hubble Smacs 0723 image and the new James Webb image.
She also mentioned keeping an eye on the very small red smudges of galaxies in the new James Webb telescope image, as they’re not seen at all in the Hubble image!
The image is also much brighter and appears to have captured many more details from much further away.
Key differences between the Hubble and James Webb telescopes
The James Webb Telescope is often called the replacement for the Hubble telescope, but NASA prefers to use the term ‘successor’. While the Webb Telescope looks at the Universe in the infrared, Hubble will continue to study it primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
The main differences between the two telescopes include the James Webb Telescope having a much larger mirror than Hubble. This means that the light-collecting area is much larger and that the James Webb can look further back into time than the Hubble telescope.
Hubble also remains in a close orbit around the earth, while the James Webb Telescope is 1.5 million kilometres away.
The James Webb telescope also can capture these images in a much shorter time frame. Hubble took about 13 days, while the Webb only took 12.5 hours.