The curtain finally rises on the sky seen by the James-Webb Space Telescope. After more than twenty-five years of waiting, multiple postponements and budget slippages, earthlings have this new piercing eye to scan the cosmos. On Monday July 11, the eyelid was lifted by US President Joe Biden himself, unveiling the first image of the JWST (its English acronym), built by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and their Canadian counterpart (CSA ). New shots will be unveiled Tuesday, July 12 afternoon.
“A historic day”, greeted Joe Biden, applauding the arrival of the image on a screen. This first image is a firework of light spots more or less wide, more or less brilliant and in various colors, with sometimes fine brilliant arcs streaking the black sky. These tens, even hundreds of shards are as many galaxies populating the Universe. Unheard of in such a small square space, equivalent to the size of a grain of sand at the end of the arm. If a slight impression of blur may surprise, this shot testifies to the success of the giant mirror telescope 6.5 meters in diameter, launched at Christmas 2021, now posted 1.5 million kilometers from Earth and fully operational.
“Colleagues told me they had tears in their eyes when they saw this first image. » Johan Richard, astronomer
The instrument indeed confirms that it is indeed a formidable time machine. To the origins of the Big Bang, tracking down a trembling light that took more than 13 billion years to reach us. “It is the first objective of the telescope, to probe the dawn of time, the origin of stars and galaxies a few tens of millions of years after the Big Bang”sums up David Elbaz, researcher at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).
” It’s fantastic ! It is really very very rich. Colleagues told me they had tears in their eyes when they saw this first image », testifies Johan Richard, astronomer at the Astrophysical Research Center of the Observatory of Lyon, delighted with this first symbolic choice. “ It’s fun to see these first images, and now we can start dreaming.”greets Nicole Nesvadba, director of research at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), at the Observatory of the Côte d’Azur. “The level of detail is breathtaking. We will really see the Universe differently. I look forward to the other images »confides Olivier Berné, CNRS researcher at the Institute for Research in Astrophysics and Planetology in Toulouse.
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