The first images taken by the James Webb Telescope and published on July 12 surprised many people, including scientists, with the accuracy and detail found in the space records.
For this reason, researchers who will have the possibility to use NASA’s new space instrument have created more expectations to make the observations. As with a group coordinated by the Rio de Janeiro-based National Observatory.
“All the indications we have received from the images and other information recently published by James Webb are impressive. We now know that the telescope is performing much better than planned,” said Roderic Overzier, a Dutch astrophysicist who leads the National Observatory project.
The team of scientists will make observations in two windows provided by the institute that coordinates the telescope: from January to March 2023 and between June and August of the same year. There will be 72 hours of feedback in total.
The group’s proposal is to study the oldest radio galaxy ever identified, known as TGSS J1530 + 1049, 12.5 billion years old. They will also focus research on a younger radio galaxy 10 billion years old.
According to the astrophysicist, radio galaxies are galaxies, giants, active and have a black hole in the center. This region is characterized by the emission of many jets that emit radio wavelengths.
These radio galaxies that we will be observing with James Webb can tell us more about how these early universe black holes form and grow. We will also study how these jets of radio transmissions leaving the radio galaxy interact with the galaxy trying to grow,” Rodrik highlights.
The group of 15 people coordinated by the Dutch scientist received the news of approval of the proposal to use the space telescope in March 2021, after more than 6 months of analysis. In all, about 1,200 projects expressed interest in using James Webb, but only 286 were approved.
Overzier notes that once the observation period begins, a team based in the United States first processes information about the proposal, and only then sends it to the National Observatory.
“There is a first processing of the data and then it is sent to us, and only then can we start our work. We will start by reprocessing the incoming data, and then we will really start our search,” he says.
“In the original proposal we needed to explain what James Webb should do. So, while renting the telescope, it only implements what we had planned. So we already know more or less what we will receive, we do not know what the discoveries will be.”
He also asserts that although some scientists have specific dates for making the observations, since July 14 all have had access to the data provided by James Webb. Soon the studies began.
Forecasts from James Webb
Since the development of James Webb, the astronomical community around the world has created a great expectation regarding the potential revolution that this space instrument could implement regarding knowledge of the beginnings of the universe.
“This prediction is based on the experience we had with the previous space telescope, Hubble. It was designed to make a lot of discoveries, because 30 years ago we had other major questions about galaxies and black holes, for example. But the biggest Hubble discoveries nobody expected, as The expansion of the universe and planets has been detected in other stars, Rodrik asserts.
According to the astrophysicist, discussions about what James Webb will discover are still very philosophical, since he began to use it recently. However, he hopes that astronomers will be surprised by the answers that the new telescope will provide in the coming years.
“Personally, I hope Webb will show that everything we think we know is wrong. That would be the best result. Because if the only thing we’re discovering is what we already know, the telescope may not live up to the expectations placed on it.”
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