New discoveries continue to amaze us about the vastness of our universe. The James Webb Space Telescope has given us its first images and they are breathtaking.
These images include the deepest infrared view of our universe ever taken, capturing starlight over 13 billion years old. With a myriad of entire galaxies in “just one speck of the universe”, one can’t help but marvel at the greatness of our Creator.
The $10-billion space telescope was launched in December 2021. It arrived at its destination beyond the moon’s orbit in January. It has since been flooding researchers with breathtaking observations of distant cosmic objects of our Universe.
“If you held a grain of sand at arm’s length, that would represent the speck of universe you see in this image”, Bill Nelson, NASA’s administrator, told President Joe Biden in a White House briefing on July 11.
Astronomers also hope that Webb telescope will help them explore the chemical makeup of the atmosphere of other worlds that might support life.
Light travels at the speed of 300,000 kilometers per second. So, when we look at the Moon, which is about 384,400 km away from the earth, we actually see it as it was 1.3 seconds ago.
When we view images like the one above, we are, in a sense, time-traveling into the past. JWST was designed to use a broad range of infrared light. And this is a key reason it can see further back in time as compared to its predecessors. We are able to see light from 13.7 billion years ago.
Left: “Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula; Right: Stephan’s Quintet
Just over a hundred years ago, we didn’t know there were galaxies outside our own. Now we estimate that there are trillions. Such discoveries should amaze us, as well as, humble us if nothing else. The Creator of these discoveries and everything that we do not yet know of, Al Aleem (The Knower of the seen and unseen) has given us a great amount of significance, while we learn how tiny and insignificant our existence is compared to the extensive and intricate design of our complex universe.
For the foreseeable future, the JWST is expected to deliver observations about every phase of cosmic history by taking us on a journey through space and time every week. You can find more information and images by the JWST here.