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Webb Telescope providing clearest views so far into deep space

Posted at 7:50 AM, Jul 13, 2022

TEMPE, AZ — We’re now discovering a whole new universe. After decades of study, we're now getting the clearest, most vivid views we’ve ever seen into deep space.

“Jaw-droppingly stunning,” says Rogier Windhorst, ASU Regents Professor with the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

The James Webb Space Telescope is giving NASA the new first full-color images using new wave-length technology.

“All the big secrets are in the wavelengths,” says Windhorst.

The debut image was revealed Monday. But Tuesday several others were released, including the deepest image of the universe ever captured and the first "exoplanet." It’s a planet orbiting another star.

The Webb Telescope launched in December 2021 from French Guinea in South America. This discovery was made possible by 21 University of Arizona researchers.

They helped develop and manage the state-of-the-art scientific instruments on board to capture these new images.

Those instruments: the Near Infrared Camera and Mid—Infrared Instrument, are led by University of Arizona professors, Marcia and George Rieke.

Marcia says while the images are no doubt aesthetically pleasing, they also have scientific utility.

“I was flabbergasted, I knew it would be good,” says Windhorst. “But I had no idea it would be this good. Absolutely knocked my socks off.”

Windhorst is also one of the world’s six interdisciplinary scientists for the new Webb Telescope.

His team says the new images will help them better understand some of the first galaxies of the universe.

As for the future of space and ASU, Windhorst says, “I think we’re going to have lots of great students and researchers coming here to study this. And we’re going to plan for the next mission.”

The Webb Telescope will replace the Hubble as the primary view into space.