NASA Releases List of Stunning Cosmic Targets for First Webb Telescope Images


NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror in the same configuration it will have in space during a deployment test in March 2020. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

" data-gt-translate-attributes="[{" attribute="">Nasait is James Webb Space Telescope will soon unveil detailed and unprecedented views of the universe, with the upcoming release of its first color images and spectroscopic data. For a hint on the incredible views, check out Webb’s thin guide sensor preview.

Below is the list of cosmic objects targeted by Webb for these early observations, which will air on NASA’s live stream beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT (7:30 a.m. PDT) on Tuesday, July 12. Each image will be simultaneously available on social networks as well as on the agency’s website. Webb is a partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

These targets listed below represent the first wave of color science images and spectra that the observatory has collected and the official start of general Webb science operations. They were selected by an international committee of representatives from NASA, ESA, CSA and the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Mystic Mountain Carina Nebula

Hubble Space Telescope image of a turbulent cosmic pinnacle that lies within a tumultuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7600 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina. One of the first images published by Webb will feature the Carina Nebula. Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

  • Carina Nebula. LLocated about 7,600 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina, the Carina Nebula is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky. Nebulae are stellar nurseries where stars are formed. The Carina Nebula is home to many massive stars, several times larger than the Sun.
  • WASP-96b (spectrum). WASP-96 b is a giant planet outside our solar system, composed mostly of gas. The exoplanet, located nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth, orbits its star every 3.4 days. It has about half the mass of Jupiterand its discovery was announced in 2014.
  • South Ring Nebula. The Southern Ring Nebula, or “Eight-Burst”, is a planetary nebula – an expanding cloud of gas, surrounding a dying star. It is located about 2,000 light-years from Earth and is almost half a light-year in diameter.
Stephan Quintet

Hubble Space Telescope image of the Stephan’s Quintet group of galaxies, located in the constellation Pegasus. How will Webb’s view compare? Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO team

  • Stephan’s Quintet: About 290 million light-years away, Stephan’s Quintet is located in the constellation Pegasus. It is notable for being the first group of compact galaxies ever discovered in 1877. Four of the quintet’s five galaxies are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters.
  • SMACS 0723: Massive clusters of foreground galaxies amplify and distort light from objects behind them, allowing a deep-field view of extremely distant and inherently faint galaxy populations.

The release of these first images marks the official start of Webb Science Operations, which will continue to explore key science themes of the mission. Teams have already applied through a competitive process for the telescope’s operating time, in what astronomers call its first “cycle”, or first year of observations.

For more on Webb’s status, see “Where’s Webb?” » tracker.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s first space science observatory. Webb will solve the mysteries of our solar system, look beyond distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it.

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