NASA telescope's 1st cosmic view goes deep

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NASA telescope's 1st cosmic view goes deep

  • NASA has unveiled images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most powerful orbital observatory ever launched.

The Image

  • NASA released a deep field photo of a distant galaxy cluster, SMACS 0723.
  • Significance: Revealed most detailed glimpse of early universe recorded to date.
  • Collection also included fresh images of another galaxy cluster known as Stephan’s Quintet, first discovered in 1877.

James Webb Space Telescope

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  • A joint NASA–ESA–CSA space telescope planned to succeed Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship astrophysics mission
  • Most powerful space telescope ever built.


  • It will enable investigations in fields of astronomy and cosmology.
  • Help understand events such as formation of first galaxies, and detailed atmospheric characterization of potentially habitable exoplanets.

Dark Ages

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  • Universe started with Big Bang event 13.8 billion years ago, which left it in ultra-hot, ultra-dense state.
  • It began expanding and cooling after Big Bang.
  • Around 400,000 years after Big Bang, universe was 10 million light-years across and temperature cooled to 5,500 F (3,000 C).
  • Throughout this time, space was filled with soup of high-energy particles, radiation, hydrogen and helium.
  • There was no structure.
  • As expanding universe became bigger and colder, soup thinned and everything faded to black.
  • This was start of Dark Ages of the universe.

How will JWST study this?

  • By studying first light
  • Dark Ages ended when gravity formed stars and galaxies that emitted the first light.
  • Astronomers aim to study this but detecting first light is challenging.
  • First objects were small
  • Due to constant expansion of universe, they’re very distant.
  • Earliest stars were surrounded by left over gas from their formation.
  • It acted like fog that absorbed most of the light.
  • It took several hundred million years for radiation to blast away the fog.
  • This early light is very faint by the time it gets to Earth.