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Where did we come from? Are we alone? The web searches for answers

Two decades of work on the ground, $10 billion spent on the project, and half a year of preparation telescope To search already in space. That much money and time for hundreds of people was the cost of the James Webb Space Telescope. However, we have seen the first effects. It is impressive to say the least.

James Webb Telescope or Hubble Telescope – Which Takes Better Pictures?

At the press conference held last Tuesday, NASA The European Space Agency presented the first images taken with the new telescope. The images are very different from the images we were able to see in recent weeks, when the exact alignment of the telescope’s mirrors was completed. The ones shown this week are not only incredibly detailed, but colorful as well.

NASA announced years ago that the Webb Telescope would be a revolution in research — going far beyond the Hubble telescope, providing scientists with a massive amount of the new search data. In turn, it will allow us to observe the far corners of the universe in images with much better quality (and resolution) than ever before.

Now we can finally check it out, so we’ve collected all of Webb’s published images so far and put them together with images of the same objects that have been photographed with Hubble in the past. The differences are – in most cases – huge.

SMACS 0723 Cluster Galaxy – Webb/Hubble

Image of SMACS 0723 Galaxy Cluster – Webb on the left, Hubble on the right Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI (left) / NASA, ESA, STScI (right)

Of course, the first focus is on the image of SMACS 0723, a group of galaxies located 4.6 billion light-years from Earth. This is the first photo that Joe Biden provided several hours before the others. No one will have trouble recognizing that the Web image is on the left and the Hubble image is on the right.

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We can notice the SMACS 0723 cluster in the middle of the frame. Around it, a highly distorted image of galaxies far from SMACS 0723 can be seen. Light from distant galaxies is distorted because the cluster’s mass is strongly bent into spacetime. This phenomenon, called gravitational lensing, was predicted by Albert Einstein over 100 years ago, but was not first observed until 1979.

Scientists have been using this for years RealityFor observing very distant objects, because the lens additionally strengthens the light that reaches the observer. Therefore, one can look beyond what might appear to be the monitoring capabilities of a particular research tool. Webb’s image is another, but the most detailed one to date, evidence of how gravity works as described by the great scientist.

Webb’s image is the farthest infrared image ever taken. In the above tweet, NASA clearly shows which of the galaxies shown are the farthest from us. This record is 13.1 billion years away from Earth, so in the photo we can see its image only 700 million years after the Big Bang.

NGC 3324 Emission Nebula – Web/Hubble



Credit: Web image – NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI / Hubble image – NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)

The following image is the emission nebula NGC 3324, which lies at a relatively close distance of about 7,500 light-years from the Solar System. It is part of the massive Carina Nebula, one of the largest and brightest ever discovered.

An image from the Hubble telescope was first shown in October 2008. Now, 14 years after this event, we can observe NGC 3324 in amazing detail. Web showed every detail of the draw in a very amazing way Gas and dust, which are two sites of very active star formation processes.

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The image from the Webb Telescope is also impressive with unusual, highly saturated colors and plenty of contrast. However, it should be noted that Webb captured the image using the NIRCam and MIRI instruments, that is, in the near and mid-infrared. Wrong colors were only added to the final image in post-production.

Planetary Nebula NGC 3132 – Webb / Hubble



Source: Web Images – NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI / Hubble image – Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA / NASA / ESA)

The next image is the planetary nebula NGC 3132, which is 2,500 light-years away from Earth. Contrary to its name, the gas and dust cloud has nothing to do with planets. It is the remnant of the gravitational collapse (collapse) of a relatively massive star that shed its outer layers, causing matter to “scatter” into space.

The image from the Hubble telescope was published in November 1998, when the telescope is now 8 years old. In subsequent years, the observatory was still being modernized as part of subsequent service missions. It’s no surprise, then, that a photo from 24 years ago looks pretty pale in a photo with Webb (both literally and figuratively). It is also less detailed and gives the impression of being out of focus. Moreover, the image from the new telescope was presented in two versions – recorded in the near (left) and middle (right) infrared.

The emission nebula visible here in interstellar space is likely to “dissolve” within several thousand or several thousand years. In its center are two stars – weaker and surrounded by dust (this fact was shown only by Webb), which threw off their outer layers, becoming a white dwarf, and even brighter, which will face a similar fate in the future.

Stephan’s Quintet – Web / Hubble

Stephan's Quintet - Web image on the left, Hubble image on the rightStephan’s Quintet – Web image on the left, Hubble image on the right Image left – NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI / Right – NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO team

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Finally, we are moving much further, 290 million light-years from Earth. This is what separates us from the group of four galaxies visible here (NGC 7317, NGC 7318A, NGC 7318B, and NGC 7319) that make up Stephan Quintet. The name is misleading because the fifth (NGC 7320) – the most visible on the left (in the Hubble image also has a color scheme) – is much closer to us – 40 million light-years from Earth. Only at first it seemed to be gravitationally bound to the rest of the group, because all five galaxies are optically completely adjacent.

This is the most detailed image of Stephan Quintet ever taken, but it is also the highest resolution image obtained by the Webb telescope. According to the researchers, it shows completely new details that were not visible until now. In fact, an image is not a single image, but a mosaic consisting of up to … 1,000 different images with a total resolution of more than 150 million pixels.

The image is as beautiful as the others, but it no longer shows such a noticeable difference between the Webb (left) and Hubble (right) telescopes. For good reason. Hubble captured this image shortly after the STS-125 service mission in May 2009. The aging telescope was then equipped with a Wide Field Camera 3, which greatly improved image quality and allowed for more detailed views.

Stephan’s Quintet was one of the first targets the scientists chose after installing the new camera. The others (shown below) are equally delightful.


Image Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO . Team

You can find more about the Webb and Hubble telescopes at