NASA's James Webb Space Telescope reveals its first images
The first images of isolated star HD 84406 have been released.
NASA today has unveiled the first images of the universe, taken by the latest technology, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
The images are put into a 'mosaic' that exposes the early stages of the JWST's 18 main mirror segments as they adjusted themselves to take clearer photos.
Though the image is a bit blurry, it is deemed a good start as the process for the telescope to reach its full potential is a long one, the end-goal being to take "ultra-sharp" images of the distant Universe.
The image, which exhibits 18 points of light, all depict HD 84406 - an isolated star.
Each primary mirror segment had its light collected, where it is also reflected back to the JWST's secondary mirror, then measured using the Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam. The cam, which acts as a sensor, will be used throughout the JWST's alignment process to detect any optical errors.
The generation of this mosaic took 25 hours, according to NASA. The 18 images of the isolated star, HD 84406, were taken from 1,500 images taken by the telescope.
Over the next few months, the mirror will begin to align after a number of adjustments the Webb will undergo - hence, the 18 starts in the mosaic will become one, as the 18 mirror segments will align to create a seamless surface.
The telescope was launched on Christmas Day last year. On January 4, the telescope successfully deployed its giant sunshield to keep its instruments cold. On January 8, its primary mirror was ready, and major developments were completed. Later on, on January 24, the Webb got to its final orbit.
The anticipated clear images will be ready in the summer, as NASA predicts. However, the images present in the time being are also something to celebrate.
“Launching Webb to space was of course an exciting event, but for scientists and optical engineers, this is a pinnacle moment, when light from a star is successfully making its way through the system down onto a detector,” JWST project scientist Michael McElwain said in a blog post.