The Webb telescope can do things other telescopes can’t.
It’s the most powerful observatory in space ever built. And a new video from the European Space Agency, which partners with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, shows how it can view distant cosmic objects with unprecedented detail and clarity.
Behold the Southern Ring Nebula, which is the site of a dramatic stellar death some 2,500 light-years away. A sun-sized star has run out of fuel and is shedding great clouds of gas into space. It’s a spectacular sight.
Tea European Space Agency video below travels well beyond our Milky Way galaxy to depict what the James Webb Space Telescope — with its over 21-foot-wide mirror — is seeing in the distant universe.
What NASA actually said about the space rock that hit the Webb telescope
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Unlike the legendary Hubble Space Telescope, which captures light we can see (“visible light”), the Webb telescope captures another type of light, with longer wavelengths, called infrared light. These longer light wavelengths can slip through clouds of dust and gas, illuminating things that were previously shrouded (like the dying star shedding gas at the center of the Southern Ring Nebula) or murky.
“It lifts the veil,” Jean Creighton, an astronomer and the director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, told Mashable last year.
The Webb telescope is just getting started. It will view some of the oldest galaxies in the universe. It will reveal what the atmospheres of mysterious exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system, are made of.
For now, take a ride on this deep dive through the cosmos.