The James Webb Telescope puts space closer

Since its launch on Christmas Day 2021, the $10 billion „time travel machine” has been busily uncovering the secrets of the universe.

From studying the atmospheres of extrasolar planets to capturing detailed photographs of stellar nurseries, the James Webb Space Telescope continues to fascinate scientists.

It was launched to help astronomers learn more about the early universe and the mysteries of the solar system.

Its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, discovered numerous moons and planets outside the solar system — or exoplanets — and helped determine the rate at which the universe is expanding.

But scientists are getting more detailed observations from Webb, which is 100 times more powerful than Hubble.

National Here's a look at some of its best finds.

Pillars of creation

Hubble and other telescopes had already taken images of the Pillars of Formation, or Eagle Nebula, but Webb captured it in unprecedented detail.

It is a region of space about 7,000 light-years from Earth where young stars form.

The space observatory revealed newly formed stars within the nebula's three pillars of gas and dust.

The findings will help scientists better understand how stars grow in these dusty clouds over millions of years and then explode.

Phantom Galaxy

The James Webb Space Telescope has helped scientists get a better look at the Phantom Galaxy, or M74, than ever before.

Located about 32 million light-years from Earth, M74 has spiral arms that are well-defined compared to the more ragged structures of some other galaxies.

Webb helped show the delicate filaments of gas and dust in the spiral arms that exit the star cluster at the center of the galaxy.

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The most distant black hole

In November, astronomers discovered the most distant black hole ever discovered, located 13.2 billion light-years from Earth in the galaxy UHZ1.

The discovery of a celestial object 10 to 100 million times the mass of the Sun could help scientists understand how black holes became so massive during the universe's infancy.

Scientists used the James Webb Space Telescope to find the host galaxy and then used the Chandra X-ray Observatory to detect the black hole.

Black holes are formed by the catastrophic collapse of a star, which compresses matter into such a small space that it cannot escape its gravitational pull.

Scientists have studied the cosmic phenomenon for decades, and in 2019 the first image of a black hole was captured using powerful telescopes.

A planet outside the solar system

The Webb telescope helped reveal the atmosphere of an exoplanet in August.

Scientists used the telescope's instruments to unravel the secrets of the planet WASP-107b, including how its atmosphere is filled with steam, sulfur dioxide and silicate sand clouds.

The smell of burning matches is present in the atmosphere due to the presence of sulfur dioxide.

The exoplanet orbits a star slightly cooler than the Sun and has a mass similar to that of Neptune.

Updated: December 29, 2023, 3:00 AM

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