The James Webb Telescope spots its first supernova

“Primarily, it’s exciting because we have shown that we’re able to find and detect new transients with Webb, which was something that JWST is not designed to do,” continued Engesser. “But it’s one of the things we’re showing we’re able to do in sort of an ad hoc way.”

JWST

Finding celestial objects like supernovas is usually left to ground telescopes, which is what makes the discovery even more exciting and unique. It showcases JWST’s unique versatility and power.

The new find is particularly exceptional as JWST looks only at small patches of the sky compared to ground telescopes.

“So the actual likelihood that you’ll find a transient in the field you’re looking at is fairly small — or at least we thought it would be small,” said Engesser. “But as you’ve probably heard, every JWST field is a deep field at this point, so there’s galaxies everywhere, and now we’re thinking, oh, we might have a really good chance of detecting supernovae all the time.”

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