Local NewsBaby stars, dancing galaxies: NASA shows new cosmic views

Baby stars, dancing galaxies: NASA shows new cosmic views

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GREENBELT, Md. — A sparkling landscape of baby stars. A foamy blue and orange view of a dying star. Five galaxies in a cosmic dance. The splendors of the universe glowed in a new batch of images released Tuesday from NASA’s powerful new telescope.

  • This image provided by NASA on Monday, July 11, 2022,...

    This image provided by NASA on Monday, July 11, 2022, shows galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. The telescope is designed to peer back so far that scientists can get a glimpse of the dawn of the universe about 13.7 billion years ago and zoom in on closer cosmic objects, even our own solar system, with sharper focus. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI via AP)

  • This image released by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022,...

    This image released by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, combined the capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope's two cameras to create a never-before-seen view of a star-forming region in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), this combined image reveals previously invisible areas of star birth. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI via AP)

  • This image released by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022,...

    This image released by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, shows the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on the James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals previously obscured areas of star birth, according to NASA. (NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI via AP)

  • This image provided by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022,...

    This image provided by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, shows Stephan's Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies captured by the Webb Telescope's Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). (NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI via AP)

  • This combo of images provided by NASA on Tuesday, July...

    This combo of images provided by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, shows a side-by-side comparison of observations of the Southern Ring Nebula in near-infrared light, at left, and mid-infrared light, at right, from the Webb Telescope. (NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI via AP)

  • This image provided by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022,...

    This image provided by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, shows Stephan's Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies captured by the Webb Telescope's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). This mosaic was constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files, according to NASA. (NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI via AP)

  • This image released by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022,...

    This image released by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, shows the Southern Ring Nebula for the first time in mid-infrared light. It is a hot, dense white dwarf star, according to NASA. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI via AP)

  • This image released by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022,...

    This image released by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, shows the bright star at the center of NGC 3132, the Southern Ring Nebula, for the first time in near-infrared light. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI via AP)

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The unveiling from the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope began Monday at the White House with a sneak peek of the first shot — a jumble of distant galaxies that went deeper into the cosmos than humanity has ever seen.

Tuesday’s releases showed parts of the universe seen by other telescopes. But Webb’s sheer power, distant location from Earth and use of the infrared light spectrum showed them in a new light.

“It’s the beauty but also the story,” NASA senior Webb scientist John Mather, a Nobel laureate, said after the reveal. “It’s the story of where did we come from.”

And, he said, the more he looked at the images, the more he became convinced that life exists elsewhere in those thousands of stars and hundreds of galaxies.

With Webb, scientist hope to glimpse light from the first stars and galaxies that formed 13.7 billion years ago, just 100 million years from the universe-creating Big Bang. The telescope also will scan the atmospheres of alien worlds for possible signs of life.

“Every image is a new discovery and each will give humanity a view of the humanity that we’ve never seen before,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Tuesday, rhapsodizing over images showing “the formation of stars, devouring black holes.”

Webb’s use of the infrared light spectrum allows the telescope to see through the cosmic dust and see faraway light from the corners of the universe, he said.

“We’ve really changed the understanding of our universe,” said European Space Agency director general Josef Aschbacher.

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