We are closer to understanding more about the universe than ever before. And it’s thanks to NASA’s new toy, the James Webb Space Telescope. 20 years in the making, JWST’s technology makes it possible to see new parts of the universe. It’s method of capturing light is more advanced than any other telescope built before, allowing humans to observe and study the timeline and phases of the universe.
“Launching Webb to space was of course an exciting event, but for scientists and optical engineers, this is a pinnacle moment, when light from a star is successfully making its way through the system down onto a detector,” said Michael McElwain, a Webb observatory project scientist at NASA
The early universe is only indicated through infrared (heat signatures, invisible to the human eye). JWST’s specialty is that it picks up infrared light which means we can gather this data to find out what the universe might have looked like closer to the Big Bang.
Unlike visible light, infrared seeps through the layers of dust floating around in space. Scientists have made assumptions of the universe with what little they could see through this continuous veil of dust, imagine what they will uncover now that they can see through it. Because of this, we have been introduced to so many new stars and planets and can take more accurate measurements of their positioning and judge their chemical makeup which is essential to understanding some of mankind’s greatest questions – why are we here, what made us possible and could there be living beings elsewhere?
If physics and chemistry didn’t interest you before, it will now. What scientists are finding with JWST is so fascinating and unexpected. Because of these readings, we now know that exoplanets they label ‘Hot Jupiters’, large planets as big as our Jupiter circling so close to their suns, have such high temperatures that the same elements that make up our precious metals and stones on Earth exist as clouds in their atmosphere. That’s out of this world!!! (pun intended)
What JWST is discovering is wilder than we could have ever imagined, and as Mark McCraughrean, an astronomer at the European Space Agency (one of the collaborating partners of JWST), says,”It’s just the beginning.”