Tuesday marks one year after the James Webb Space Telescope reaches its target orbiting 1 million miles from Earth.
Launched on Christmas Day 2021, the Webb telescope was a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency to study the formation of the oldest galaxies in the universe, how they compare to present-day galaxies. Our solar system has evolved and if there is life on other planets.
It uses infrared radiation to detect objects in space and can see celestial objects that are often invisible to the naked eye.
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Since then, the Webb telescope has sent back numerous images, including stars, planets and nebulae, and even galaxies millions of miles away.
Here are some of the most stunning images taken over the course of a year:
The first full-color image taken by the Webb Telescope was unveiled at the White House on July 11 during a press event hosted by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is “the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date,” according to NASA.
Thousands of galaxies can be seen in the image, but it covers the equivalent size of someone holding a grain of sand at an arm’s length, according to NASA.
Also, the public first realized how powerful Webb was from its predecessor, the Hubble Telescope, which saw only visible light, ultraviolet radiation, and near-infrared radiation.
The image, which emerged during an event organized by NASA on July 12, showed new details about the Carina Nebula in the Milky Way Galaxy.
Only the edge of the nebula is visible, but the image shows hundreds of stars previously masked by a cloud of gas and dust.
The area, referred to as the Cosmic Abyss, shows a “giant, gaseous void” as young recently born stars push down ultraviolet radiation and create the jagged-looking edge.
The cloud-like structure of the nebula includes ridges, hills, and valleys – a look very similar to a mountain range.
Jupiter in detail
On August 22, NASA revealed two new Webb images of Jupiter that show the planet’s atmosphere, rings and moons in never-before-seen detail.
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The first image is a composite showing the turbulent atmosphere of Jupiter and swirls of different colors showing the notorious Great Red Spot that can produce winds of over 250 miles per hour.
The second image shows Jupiter’s rings – according to NASA – one million times fainter than the planet, and its two moons, Adrastea and Amalthea.
First released by ESA on Aug. 30, Webb captured an image of the Ghost Galaxy located about 32 million light-years from Earth.
Also known as M74, the Ghost Galaxy has low surface brightness, making it difficult to see and requires a clear, dark sky for this. But Webb’s sharp lens captured the clearest view of the galaxy’s features.
“These spiral arms are followed by bursts of blue and pink, which are star-forming regions,” NASA wrote in a social media post. “A mottled cluster of young stars glows blue at the very heart of the galaxy.”
On October 19, NASA released an image of the “Pillars of Creation,” young, bright red stars in a fluctuating cloud of gas and dust.
According to the space agency, the Pillars of Creation are elephant trunks, a type of interstellar formation of matter found in the Eagle Nebula about 6,500 to 7,000 light-years from Earth.
The Webb Telescope, released November 16, is revealing a protostar, the first stages of a star’s birth.
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The red and orange gas cloud takes the form of a fiery hourglass.
As it absorbs material, its core will compress, heat up, and eventually begin nuclear fusion, creating a star.
Coldest ice ever measured
The final image, released by NASA ahead of its one-year anniversary, shows an icy molecular cloud of content, the birthplace of stars and planets.
The telescope shows the frozen state of elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur.
“We’re not talking about ice cubes,” NASA wrote. social media post On January 23, “This molecular cloud is so cold and dark that it is frozen on dust grains in a variety of molecules. Webb’s data proves for the first time that more complex molecules from methanol can form in the icy depths of such clouds before stars are formed.” be born.”
Max Zahn of ABC News contributed to this report.
On the anniversary of NASA’s Webb telescope reaching its target, here are the most stunning images that first surfaced on abcnews.go.com.