The James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s $10 billion pioneering observatory launched in December, which seeks to discover the furthest corners of the universe yet unknown to humankind, has beamed its first images down to Earth.
On Monday at 5 p.m. eastern time, live from the White House, President Biden will reveal the first full-color photograph. Dubbed “Webb’s First Deep Field,” it will be the highest-resolution infrared view of the universe to date, according to NASA.
On Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. eastern time, NASA will release the rest of the telescope’s first batch of images, which will shed light on the cosmic minutiae behind the life of a star, from its origin as a heavy gas cloud to its violent stellar death, as well as the secrets of distant exoplanets and clusters of faraway galaxies—offering insight, even, into whether their atmospheres might be ripe for extraterrestrial life.
These images are the fruit of a project over two decades in the making. As NASA’s most powerful observatory—100 times more so than Hubble—the James Webb telescope is a feat of engineering that boasts the largest mirror ever sent into space, spanning 21 feet of hexagon-shaped gold-plated beryllium, which can cut through cosmic dust to capture infrared light traveling across the universe from its deepest reaches imaginable. It is said to be able to detect light emitted by the very first stars and galaxies created after the Big Bang, thus peering through a window into the earliest days of a baby universe. According to NASA, “Webb’s First Deep Field” will show galaxies as they existed up to 13 billion years ago.
To celebrate the James Webb telescope’s work, NASA has a packed schedule of events on Tuesday, which will be livestreamed from YouTube and NASA’s website, app, and social channels (including Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch). Starting at 9:45 a.m. eastern time, the agency and telescope team will make opening remarks, followed by the image release at 10:30 a.m., and a media conference at the Goddard Space Flight Center at 12:30 p.m.