First Images from the James Webb Space Telescope!

an undulating, translucent star-forming region in the Carina Nebula is shown in this Webb image, hued in ambers and blues; foreground stars with diffraction spikes can be seen, as can a speckling of background points of light through the cloudy nebula

Carina Nebula

Dear Commons Community,

The dawn of a new era in astronomy has begun as the world gets its first look at the full capabilities of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).  The telescope’s first full-color images and spectroscopic data were released during a televised broadcast at 10:30 a.m. yesterday from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. As stated at NASA’s website, “these listed targets below represent the first wave of full-color scientific images and spectra the observatory has gathered, and the official beginning of Webb’s general science operations.”

Here is appropriate commentary about Webb and space exploration that quotes Carl Sagan.

“Humans are explorers by nature, and it’s no surprise that as soon as we could explore the stars, we did. For thousands of years humans etched stars on rocks and painted constellations on cave walls. We’ve been looking up, echoing a cosmic gaze that is built into our bones, blood and history.

When we look up, we look for ourselves. Dr. Sagan once said, “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself,” and that could not be more true. We long to understand why we’re here and to find meaning in a world where meaning is so often difficult to divine. Telescopes like this remind us that in spite of our specific challenges on Earth, the possibility of connection still exists.

Now that Webb is online, working and already sending extraordinary photos, we can not only continue asking the hard questions, but also possibly, someday, have answers to them. To understand our environment in this way is to understand ourselves. To gaze at the cosmos is to gaze back at our history. These speckled, swirling, bizarre galaxies are a part of our past. It is one perhaps less accessible to us, but nonetheless just as important.

Yes, we are made of star stuff, and perhaps much more. We are not just humans bound to a blue rocky planet in a galaxy. We are the universe calling ourselves home.”

Congratulations NASA, ESA, and CSA!


side-by-side views of Southern Ring planetary nebula as seen by Webb telescope (NIRCam, left; MIRI, right) against black backdrop of space; a bright star appears at center in both images, surrounded by an undulating ring of gas

Southern Ring Nebula

the galaxies in Stephan's Quintet appear as purple-pink swirls against the blackness of space in this JWST image; some foreground stars appear with diffraction spikes from the telescope's mirrors; numerous other galaxies and stars bespangle the image

Stephan’s Quintet


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