The James Webb Space Telescope Releases First Photo Of Star

Emily Brown

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The James Webb Space Telescope Releases First Photo Of Star

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

NASA has shared the first image of a star taken by the James Webb Space Telescope as part of a months-long process to align the observatory's enormous golden mirror.

With the help of its 6.5 metre-wide primary mirror, astronomers are planning to use the telescope to look back some 13.5 billion years to the first generation of galaxies that formed after the Big Bang.

Before this process can begin, the telescope must align its primary mirror using the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) instrument, with the image of the star coming as it nears completion of the first phase of alignment.

Hear more about the telescope below:


In a press release by NASA, the agency explained that the team wanted to confirm that NIRCam was ready to collect light from celestial objects, and then identify starlight from the same star in each of the 18 primary mirror segments.

The image capturing process began on February 2 and lasted nearly 25 hours, with astronomers stitching together different images to produce a single, large mosaic.

The mission proved successful as the agency shared the image of the star, which actually appears to show 18 different stars. However, each of the dots of starlight are actually the product of Webb’s unaligned mirror segments all reflecting light back from the same star.

The image can now be used as a foundation to align and focus the telescope, after which astronomers will be able to observe 'unprecedented views of the universe'. After receiving the image of the star at 18 different points, the team will now work to adjust the mirror segments until the 18 points become one.

First image of star from James Webb Telescope (NASA)
First image of star from James Webb Telescope (NASA)

Commenting on the process, Marcia Rieke, principal investigator for the NIRCam instrument and regents professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, commented, 'The entire Webb team is ecstatic at how well the first steps of taking images and aligning the telescope are proceeding. We were so happy to see that light makes its way into NIRCam.'

Michael McElwain, Webb observatory project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, stressed the significance of the image as he said, 'Launching Webb to space was of course an exciting event, but for scientists and optical engineers, this is a pinnacle moment, when light from a star is successfully making its way through the system down onto a detector.'

After successfully achieving the first image, Webb's photographs are set to only become more clear, 'detail-laden' and 'intricate', NASA explains.

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Topics: News, NASA, Space, Technology

Emily Brown
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