James Webb Telescope Celebrates 2 Years of Operations with a New Image of Distant Galaxies

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14 Jul 2024 1:00 AM

The James Webb Telescope is celebrating two years of scientific operations with an incredible new image of two galaxies interacting 326 million light years away!

We spoke to the project scientist for James Webb, Amber Straughn, Ph.D., about what Webb the image and what else Webb has discovered.



Webb, the world's largest and most powerful space telescope, was launched in 2021, but first began operating on July 12th, 2022, after the telescope unfolded from its compact launch fold, taking many months to calibrate its advanced tools.

Since becoming operational, James Webb has been peering farther into space and time then previously possible, helping NASA unlock early mysteries of the universe. By looking farther and farther away from earth, James Webb peers through time due to the delay of light reaching earth from galaxies billions of light years away. This helps scientists see what the universe looked like during it's earliest stages of formation and expansion.

This includes Webb's most recently released image of galaxies swirling around one another.

Here is NASA's description of this incredible new image:

"The distorted spiral galaxy at center, the Penguin, and the compact elliptical at left, the Egg, are locked in an active embrace. This near- and mid-infrared image combines data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument), and marks the telescope’s second year of science. Webb’s view shows that their interaction is marked by a glow of scattered stars represented in blue. Known jointly as Arp 142, the galaxies made their first pass by one another between 25 and 75 million years ago, causing “fireworks,” or new star formation, in the Penguin. The galaxies are approximately the same mass, which is why one hasn’t consumed the other."

A video breakdown of the image with incredible insight has been released to accompany the image. You can watch that below:


For more information about the image and the James Webb Space Telescope, visit the James Webb mission page.

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