according to reported by digital lookThe James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is one step away from starting to operate effectively, and engineers in charge of the observatory are making final adjustments to the Tools which it composes.
The team captured and released some test footage during the commissioning phase over the past few months. Now, the focus has been on a prominent target: the Large Magellanic Cloud.
According to Scott Friedman, JWST chief scientist at NASA’s Space Science Telescope Institute, the main purpose of our galactic neighbor’s record was to calibrate any distortion and improve the sharpness of the images.
Using its finest instrument, the Intermediate Infrared Instrument (MIRI), the next-generation telescope has been able to capture the Large Magellanic Cloud with a clarity unprecedented in the history of astronomical observations, proving its extremely high performance.
The new MIRI image shows the galaxy’s interstellar gas chemistry in its finest detail yet, including the emission of carbon and hydrogen molecules called “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,” which are some of the building blocks of life.
In a press conference broadcast live online Monday, team scientists said this imaging capability is essential to help the telescope understand how stars and protoplanetary systems form.
said Chris Evans, observatory project scientist at European Space Agency (ESA)Mission partner.
“We’ve done a lot of studies on star and planet formation in our galaxy, but here we’re looking at it in the Magellanic Clouds, very small outer galaxies, which are chemically less evolved than our Milky Way,” Evans added. “So this gives us an opportunity to look at the processes of star and planet formation in a very different environment than our galaxy.”
The detailed perspective from the James Webb Telescope provides an unprecedented view of galactic processes
For comparison, the team released the image alongside the same target taken by the retired Spitzer Space Telescope—a pioneer, in its day, in generating high-resolution images of the universe. While Webb captured his image at 7.7 microns, Spitzer recorded it at 8.0 microns.
“Spitzer has done amazing things,” Evans said. “But it was limited by spatial resolution, as it was optimized for large-scale surveys that capture celestial objects in the general context.”
According to him, Webb’s detailed and close-up perspective will provide “a fascinating view of processes in a different galaxy for the first time, removing the dust.”
“We use mid-infrared to search for materials that would otherwise be obscured at visible wavelengths,” he explained.
The new space telescope features a much larger primary mirror, improved detectors, and a higher vantage point than Spitzer’s, which was in orbit around the Earth, as opposed to Webb’s orbit at the second Lagrangian point (L2) between Earth and Earth. The Sun, about 1.5 million km. According to its scientists, these factors will allow the observatory to access infrared information more clearly than its predecessor.
Knowing the location of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud is a key advantage for astronomers, according to Michael McElwain, JWST project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
“We can use them for astronomical calibration,” he explained, adding that this is important for the calibration of scientific instruments. “Of course, these photos are also amazing.”
Soon, mission personnel will also test the observatory’s ability to track objects in the solar system, such as planets, satellites, rings, asteroids and comets. Scientists will focus on making sure Webb can do this properly, since he is particularly sensitive to starlight.
“We will also measure changes in the telescope’s alignment as we point it at different locations,” Evans said. For this, Webb is undergoing a test thermal stabilitywhere it oscillates between positions where it receives more or less sunlight.
While the team has yet to reveal what target it will focus on first when testing work is complete, scientists said the observatory is on schedule to begin its science in June or July.
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