Five Big Secrets That The James Webb Space Telescope Will Unravel
Decades of wait ended as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – the most powerful space observatory was launched on December 25, 2021, from French Guiana in South America.
The James Webb Space Telescope’s conception is largely inspired by the Hubble Space Telescope— the space observatory popular for capturing stunning photographs of the galaxies of our universe. But Webb is specifically designed to pick up from where its predecessor falls short. Thanks to the infrared gaze and size of the new observatory, here are five big secrets that the James Webb Space Telescope will enable astronomers to do.
Examine how the early universe looked like
With its powerful infrared vision, JWST will look back more than 13.5 billion years in time to see the first galaxies and stars forming out of the darkness of the nascent universe. Webb will examine how the early universe looked by studying the stars that fused with existing hydrogen atoms into more helium. Using its infrared light, the JWST can look back to approximately 100 million to 250 million years after the Big Bang.
Study the formation and growth of early galaxies
JWST will perform low-resolution spectroscopy and near-infrared, ultra-deep surveys of the universe to study the emission and absorption of light by matter. The telescope’s infrared sensitivity will enable astronomers to compare the earliest and faintest galaxies to the grand ellipticals and spiral of the present day. This, in turn, will help scientists examine how galaxies assemble over billions of years.
Detect possible chemical signatures of life on other planets
If life exists in other planets, it will release distinct chemical signatures. For instance, breathing carbon dioxide and photosynthesizing oxygen can transform a planet. Analyzing the presence of chemicals in the atmosphere of a planet will not just enable scientists to look for life but also help them assess the planet’s habitability.
Unravel secrets about the birth of stars and planets
JWST will see through massive dust clouds that are opaque only to visible-light observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope. Planetary systems and stars are born in such dust clouds. Furthermore, the observations made by the telescope will enable researchers to understand the complex ways in which nascent stars within a star-forming region interact with one another and also the evolution of stars.
Examine black holes from a different angle
Webb’s infrared eye will help scientists peer into the past dusty curtain and see through it all. JWST will offer valuable data to peek into the speeds, chemical compositions, and temperature of the stellar cloaks of black holes. This data will enable scientists to learn more about the size and mass of the black hole and how it snacks on a star.
Also, Webb will enable scientists to learn more about dark energy and dark matter, among other surprises.