James Webb Telescope: Images Released from the largest general observer Program

The largest general observer programme for the James Webb Space Telescope has produced its first Images.


In the first year of the James Webb Space Telescope, the first photographs from the largest program show a wide variety of galaxies, including brilliant instances of spiral galaxies, gravitational lensing, and proof of galaxy mergers. JWST's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIDIR) captured mosaic photos in early January, which were made available by scientists from the COSMOS-Web initiative (MIRI).

To map the universe's oldest features, COSMOS-Web will produce a broad and in-depth study of up to 1 million galaxies. COSMOS-Web will map 0.6 square degrees of the sky with NIRCam over 255 hours of observational time, or roughly the area of three full moons, and 0.2 square degrees with MIRI

Principal investigator Jeyhan Kartaltepe, an associate professor at Rochester Institute of Technology's School of Physics and Astronomy, declared that it was "very thrilling" to get the first COSMOS-Web data from the telescope. "The data are even better than we anticipated, and everything went flawlessly. This is only a small sample of the scientifically accurate photographs we have been working so hard to develop for use in our study."

Along with main investigator Caitlin Casey, an associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin, Kartaltepe is co-directing COSMOS-Web. There are around 100 astronomers from different countries on the global team. Astonishingly, there are more galaxies in this first COSMOS-Web snapshot—about 25,000—than even in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, according to Casey. "One of the biggest JWST photos ever captured. Yet, it only makes up 4% of the information we will receive for the entire survey. This deep field will be incredibly huge and overpowering lovely when it is finished."

The three main scientific objectives of COSMOS-Web are to advance our knowledge of the Reionization Era, which occurred between 200,000 and 1 billion years after the Big Bang, to identify and characterize early massive galaxies in the first 2 billion years, and to investigate how dark matter has changed about the stellar mass of galaxies.

The largest region that JWST will observe in its first year is COSMOS-Web, allowing for the study of galaxies in a variety of local settings. When compared to earlier photographs acquired by observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, the images thus far taken revealed astounding detail.

The mosaics were made from six telescope pointings that were taken on January 5–6. In April and May, the telescope will perform 77 pointings or almost half the field, and the final 69 pointings are planned for December 2023 and January 2024. Santosh Harish, a postdoctoral research associate at RIT, stated that the JWST has produced such amazing photos of this location that sources are virtually popping out in every small patch of the examined sky.

"The JWST observations are now able to resolve what were previously assumed to be compact objects into many components and in some cases even reveal the intricate morphology of these extragalactic sources. We have only begun to scrape the surface of what is to come with the conclusion of this initiative, next year, with these initial observations."

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