NASA is heading space exploration into the limitless insights and depth of observations. Since the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, there were concerns about the successful completion of mirror alignment and capturing the images of distant stars and galaxies. Adding to the complexity, It is the first-ever telescope to launch a million miles away from the earth.
That’s why the concerns were genuine given the intensity of investment. The total cost of this project is $10 billion. However, all those concerns died when the new images from the JWST captured the star with the perfect alignment of 18 mirrors. The selfie of a single star is marking an innovation in space observatory to the amazement of astronomers and space scientists.
The new thing in the latest selfie of JWST
The JWST has focused on a single-star HD 84406 since its launch and mirror alignment. Before this new image from JWST, there was a mosaic of images from 18 mirrors individually. What is new in this image is that it has captured the distant star HD 84406 along with the many galaxies in the background. The JWST is using the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) to capture the faintest light in space. Thus, it marks a new era in space exploration.
The Universe is full of awkward mysteries. Without proper means of exploration, most of the mysteries will remain horrible mysteries. However, with the modern age, technology is shaping a new reality. The construction of the James Webb Space Telescope is one of them.
Alignment of 18 mirrors and space exploration
Now, the 18 mirrors of the JWST have been aligned successfully so they can act as a single mirror. The new selfie from JWST is showing that the 18 mirrors are taking the light from the same single star: HD 84406. The telescope took the selfie using the Near-Infrared Camera.
Moreover, the engineers on earth are making sure the JWST works properly. These 18 golden mirrors can capture distant stars, galaxies, and plans far beyond our galaxy. Even capturing the light from 13.6 billion light-years away is very much possible.
The Universe is unimaginably large and deep. In this infinity of cosmos, one can think how the James Webb Space Telescope can scan the gigantic galaxies and mammoth stars? The answers lie in the immensity of the mirrors and the sophisticated design of JWST.
The James Webb Space Telescope used the 21-foot, 4-inch primary golden mirror. There are 18 hexagonal mirrors. The JWST was big enough that a rocket fell short of carrying it into space. Thus, the scientists had to fold it before sending it into the space exploration mission. Acknowledging the complexity of the JWST, Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager said, “besides enabling the incredible science that Webb will achieve, the teams that designed, built, tested, launched, and now operate this observatory have pioneered a new way to build space telescopes.”
JWST is an ambitious scientific endeavor
Even after such an outstanding image of the star and the surrounding galaxies, the full potential of the JWST is yet to come to blow our minds completely. There are still many things that would get their full potential. Such as the alignment of instruments, including the near-infrared imager, near-infrared spectrograph, slitless spectrograph, and mid-infrared instrument.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington said, “More than 20 years ago, the Webb team set out to build the most powerful telescope that anyone has ever put in space and came up with an audacious optical design to meet demanding science goals. Today we can say that design is going to deliver.” There is more to come from the JWST in the summer.
Until the telescope reaches its full potential we are in the dark. The hectic and lengthy process of alignment of JWST will conclude at the end of May. After the initial alignment will complete the process of scientific observation and a set of images will be initiated.
The launch of the JWST is indeed a new revolution in space exploration. There are many questions we don’t know yet. Such as the origin of the Universe and the existence of life on other planets. However, with the help of JWST, we can find these answers. The upcoming images of JWST in summer will astound the observers and space scientists around the world even more.