way out.

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The first publicly released image from the James Webb Space Telescope, showing countless galaxies and multiple arcs where the combined gravity of those galaxies magnifies light from background objects, bringing even more distant galaxies into view.  NASA
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson described the image to President Biden, saying all the stars and galaxies it encompassed were located in an area of space the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone standing on Earth.

“We’re looking back more than 13 billion years,” he said. “That light that you are seeing has been traveling for over 13 billion years, and by the way, we’re going back farther. This is just the first image. They’re going back about thirteen-and-a-half billion years. And since we know the universe is 13.8 billion years old, we’re going back almost to the beginning.”

NASA plans to release additional “first light” images Tuesday, photos designed to showcase Webb’s ability to chart the details of stellar evolution, from starbirth to death by supernova, to study how galaxies form, merge and evolve and to probe the chemical composition of atmospheres around planets orbiting other stars.

This initial Webb deep field released Monday promises to rewrite the astronomy books yet again, providing the data needed to fill in many of the major gaps in the history of the universe, perhaps even providing the framework to determine when —  and how —  the first massive stars formed, exploded and seeded the cosmos with the heavy elements that make life possible.

“the size and age of the cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding.
lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home.” 
-carl sagan, cosmos
source credit: nasa

61 responses »

  1. Pingback: way out. | idealisticrebel

  2. Things like this inspired me to study astrophysics at university. Yet even I started to become overwhelmed around ten years ago with the pace and scale of discoveries. The past 20 years have been a true golden age that is only accelerating with the exponential advancement of technology.

    One of the things that gets me about this image is that it took only a few hours of exposure to produce. Hubble spent weeks producing similar images and this one STILL beats the record.

    Can you imagine when they spend a couple of weeks to create a ‘deep field’ view with the Webb telescope? We’re about to be mindblown as humanity. Like we’re about to meet our creators lol and see Pi encoded in the early big bang afterglow and realise the whole thing was a creation of advanced beings xD. Are we going to glimpse right back to the era of recombination? Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “They’re going back about thirteen-and-a-half billion years.”

    Ah, so right back to the era of recombination then. I don’t know if I’m ready for that! That period ended 380k years after big bang and was when the first light shone when atomic nuclei and electrons recombined as the universe cooled.

    This could be one of those wake-up calls that humanity benefits from every now and again. Like the moon landings and photos, Hubble images. Especially once they start probing and imaging earth-like alien worlds too. This could be something that changes people’s perspective for the better on a wide scale. Perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sagan was right. I struggle to comprehend the idea that we are looking/seeing back 13 billion years! I can scarcely comprehend a number that big, much less “looking back” in time. Mind blown here. Totally blown.

    Liked by 1 person

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