I regularly find myself making personal deep dives into things that I find especially cool and exciting. Lately, I’ve found myself wanting to share more about those niche topics of my enthusiasm. So, here’s the first in a little series I’m calling “X is Cool!"
If you haven’t heard of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), you should set aside half-an-hour with whichever of your devices has the biggest and highest resolution screen, and get ready to be in awe.
The James Webb Space Telescope is basically the best telescope and “camera” that humanity has yet made. It’s currently hanging out in an special orbit that keeps it about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, with the Earth always between it and the sun. It’s such a powerful telescope and camera that it makes the Hubble, which held the record of “Best Space Telescope” for over 3 decades, look like a flip-phone camera.
After several decades of dreaming, design, engineering, building, testing, delays, more testing, and more delays, it finally launched Christmas day, 2021!
It got into its orbit, and finished its set up and configuration a couple months later in February 2022.
And then, it started taking some photos.
The photos this thing can take are AMAAAZING!!!
Each of these are pretty decently cool photos at first glance… You know, they might make a good background for your laptop or phone.
But… I need you to look at those photos closer. Not just a glance, but zoom in on them.
If you’re on a device that makes it easy, download the high-res versions of each of those, and look CLOSE at them.
You see all those tiny little lights in the background? Not the big ones with six rays of light coming off of them. (Those are actually stars that are comparatively close to the JWST.) But you see the tiny ones behind them?
Those are GALAXIES.
Not just stars…
But entire freaking galaxies! Each with hundreds of billions of stars in them.
🤯 🤯 🤯
Many of these galaxies that the JWST has been able to image have never been seen by humans before.
In fact, just a few days after JWST came online, it beat the record for the furthest away thing that humanity had ever been able to picture… and then, a few days later, beat that record again… and then again!
JWST has been able to observe and image galaxies estimated to be 13.7 Billion Light Years away!
That’s distance it takes that light (which travels the fastest that the very laws of physics allow) to travel in 13,700,000,000 years.
Man… Space is BIG.
The JWST has been able to give us a bit more of a taste of how big, and beautiful, and awe-inspiring this universe is.
Yup. The James Webb Space Telescope is Cool!
If you want to see more of the photos from JWST, NASA’s sites have some great galleries of photos. Or your search engine of choice can help you find more!
Lots of YouTube Creators and other content creators online have made some great explainers talking further about JWST. If this has peaked your interest, check those out too!