12 July 2022 News

Star billing for first Webb picture

James Webb Space Telescope first deep field image
James Webb Space Telescope first deep field image
The international NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope has delivered the deepest, sharpest infrared image of the distant Universe so far peering back in time to almost the very edge.

A tantalising taster image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, known as Webb's First Deep Field, was unveiled during a White House event on Monday (11 July) by US President Joe Biden.

"Webb's First Deep Field is not only the first full-colour image from the James Webb Space Telescope, it’s the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe, so far. This image covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length. It’s just a tiny sliver of the vast Universe," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“This mission was made possible by human ingenuity – the incredible NASA Webb team and our international partners at the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. Webb is just the start of what we can accomplish in the future when we work together for the benefit of humanity."

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher described it as an “incredible honour” for ESA and its international partners to reveal Webb’s first image from the White House.

“Only with teamwork, dedication, and the human drive to push boundaries and explore have we arrived at this historical moment of seeing the deepest view of the early Universe to date.”

Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail.

“We are now even more excited for tomorrow’s release of further images and spectra from ESA-contributed instruments, which add another dimension to the Deep Field and the other stunning cosmic targets,” says ESA’s Director of Science, Günther Hasinger. “We are ready to begin our voyage back to the early days of our Universe with this world-class observatory.”

“This is just a first glimpse of what Webb can do," says Macarena Garcia Marin, MIRI ESA Instrument Scientist. "While we are truly in awe today of Webb's first deep field, I can’t help but think of what images and science results are just around the corner in the many years to come!”

This image is among the telescope’s first-full colour images. The full suite will be released today (12 July), beginning at 16:30 CEST.

Webb is the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space. Under an international collaboration agreement, ESA provided the telescope’s launch service, using the Ariane rocket. For more information see: Essential guide to the James Webb Space Telescope

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