The most detailed image of the universe has been captured thanks to NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope – the most powerful telescope ever launched into space designed primarily to conduct infrared astronomy.
Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, the incredible image you see is a galaxy cluster known as SMACS 0723, which is not only mind-blowingly beautiful in itself, but it’s almost unfathomable to think that each cluster is its own galaxy which all have their own 100 billion stars which, in turn, all have their own sets of planets orbiting them.
That fact alone makes it pretty plausible that we’re definitely not alone in this universe.
“This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground,” explains NASA.
“This deep field, taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totalling 12.5 hours – achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond the Hubble Space Telescope’s deepest fields, which took weeks.”
It's here–the deepest, sharpest infrared view of the universe to date: Webb's First Deep Field.
Previewed by @POTUS on July 11, it shows galaxies once invisible to us. The full set of @NASAWebb's first full-color images & data will be revealed July 12: https://t.co/63zxpNDi4I pic.twitter.com/zAr7YoFZ8C
— NASA (@NASA) July 11, 2022
The Biden Administration made public the findings of Webb’s First Deep Field, sharing with the world the “deepest” and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe ever produced.
“These images are going to remind the world that America can do big things, and remind the American people – especially our children – that there’s nothing beyond our capacity,” President Biden said during the briefing.
“We can see possibilities no-one has ever seen before. We can go places no-one has ever gone before.”
The image produced is said to be “about” 4.6 billion light-years in the distance, with scientists saying that from the quality of the data produced by Webb, the telescope is sensing space way beyond the most far-flung object in this image.
While the US$10 Billion James Webb Space Telescope only launched last December, its remarkable discovery is only the beginning of what is possible to come. There’s no doubt the discovery of more planets and galaxies will surface, but its two overarching goals include taking pictures of the very first stars to shine in the Universe more than 13.5 billion years ago and to probe far-off planets to see if they might be habitable.