“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.”
Scanning electron microscope image of one of the clumps of presolar grains, or stardust. Image via Janaína N. Ávila/EurekAlert!
Ancient stardust in meteorite is older than Earth
Grains of stardust – particles left behind by star explosions – in an Australian meteorite are now the oldest known material on Earth. A new study suggests this stardust came to be long before our sun ever existed.
As the saying goes, we are all made of stardust. It’s true. The elements in our bodies – oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium and so on – are made in the thermonuclear furnaces of stars. When scientists speak of stardust, or cosmic dust, they’re speaking of the leftover tiny particles from dead stars that exploded as supernovae. This stardust later goes into forming new stars, planets and moons, including those in our own solar system. It goes into the solar system’s debris, the asteroids and comets, and ultimately meteorites, or rocks from space that find their way to Earth’s surface. Now scientists at the Field Museum in Chicago have found the oldest known samples of stardust in a meteorite that landed in Australia. The meteorite is estimated to be 5 to 7 billion years old. The stardust samples are the oldest material ever discovered on Earth. This dust is even older than our solar system.
The new peer-reviewed study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on January 13, 2020.
credits: SPACE – Paul Scott Anderson, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Earth Sky, Chicago Field Museum, Phillip Heck
On an eight-day flight aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992, AAAS member Mae Carol Jemison became the first African American woman to travel in space. Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!
Mae C. Jemison, born on this day in 1956, has a few firsts to her name: She was the first woman of color in space, as well as the only real astronaut to have served on the U.S.S. Enterprise, where she portrayed a lieutenant on an episode of Star Trek: TNG.
“we inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity.”