The James Webb Space Telescope: The Foundation Of An Era

The iconic star nursery with thick pillars of gas and dust, known as the Pillars of Creation, was initially photographed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope almost 30 years ago. Now, the new James Webb Space Telescope has captured NASA’s most precise image of the terrain which is helping scientists better understand how stars develop.

The James Webb telescope hailed as the replacement for the venerable Hubble, is designed to see near- and mid-infrared light that is invisible to humans, enabling it to see through dust that can hide stars and other objects in Hubble photos.

James Webb’s infrared eyes could not see through a mixture of gas and dust in the Pillars of Creation, but its new vision will enable researchers to make more accurate estimates of the number of freshly formed stars as well as the volume of gas and dust present in the area.

James Webb Space Telescope Pillars Creation
James Webb Space Telescope Pillars Creation

In response to public demand, the James Webb team planned to use the new space telescope to photograph the Pillars of Creation, according to Klaus Pontoppidan, a project scientist working on the James Webb.

The Milky Way’s plane is where the M16 nebula is located, and there are many stars there. penned Pontoppidan. “This image spans an area the same size on the sky and was captured in exactly the same way as the cosmic cliffs.”

Astrophysicist and scientific communicator Kirsten Banks applauded James Webb for revising the Pillars of Creation and providing more accurate data for researchers to study the birth of stars. Throughout a Twitter video, Banks stated, “Not only are there obvious stars scattered in every nook and corner of this image, but if you look closely at the tops of the pillars, you can see this blazing heat.

James Webb Space Telescope Pillars Creation
James Webb Space Telescope Pillars Creation

It appears as though a volcano is spewing lava. Young stars, only a few hundred thousand years old, that blast out supersonic jets that excite nearby hydrogen molecules and produce a crimson glow are the source of the red patches at the borders of some pillars.

James Webb’s success came after more than 20 years of technical challenges, cost overruns, delays, and threats from Congress to scrap the telescope entirely. The Webb’s primary mirror boasted six times as much light collecting area as the Hubble, but critics questioned its huge size.

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