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The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into Earth’s orbit by the space shuttle Discovery more than 30 years ago. Since then, Hubble has captured breathtaking images that are not only incredibly beautiful, but also provide invaluable scientific insight, showing that the rate of expansion of the universe is actually accelerating due to a mysterious force. something called dark energy.
Until now, Hubble is still an amazing tool for astronomy and it will continue to serve scientific research for many years to come – but scientists want more, and that’s it. is why we now have the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched and operated in Earth’s orbit at an altitude of about 610 km, about 220 km higher than the orbital altitude of the International Space Station ISS. With a speed of about 7,500 m/s, Hubble can orbit the Earth once in 97 minutes and 15 times a day.
Hubble is equipped with a full range of solar-powered instruments that capture all images of the universe with visible, ultraviolet (UV) and near-infrared wavelength light. Of course, all of the instruments on Hubble are designed to work outside of Earth’s atmosphere, and if you put Hubble on the ground, many of the instruments will no longer work.
You may have seen the first stunning images from the JWST released by NASA last week, and it really shows off its capabilities compared to other space telescopes.
Image of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, showing dozens of galaxies 13 billion light-years away. The obvious differences are striking, including a much more obvious gravitational lensing effect, which magnifies and bends the light behind gravitationally-weighted objects.
Or this image of the Southern Ring Nebula shows a vivid shell of gas and dust more than 1.3 light-years across with a dying star inside.
These unprecedentedly sharp images are due to the fact that JWB is about 100 times more sensitive than Hubble thanks to its larger light-collecting mirror. But the biggest difference between the two is that Hubble mainly makes observations at visible and ultraviolet wavelengths, while the $10 billion JWST mainly makes mid-infrared and near-infrared observations. .
JWST’s sensitivity to much longer wavelengths allows it to see through dust clouds that often obscure distant stars, planetary systems, and galaxies from Hubble’s prying eyes.
This means that the JWST is so sensitive that it can reveal the atmospheric composition of distant alien planets. It can also see much farther in time and in much more detail than Hubble. At the present time, no instrument other than JWST can see the first galaxies forming in the universe.
Similarly, the Carina Nebula is seen in much greater detail through the prism of James Webb, with each new bright dot representing a different star. Thanks to infrared-sensitive instruments, Webb was able to sweep away cobwebs of gas and dust, revealing not only hundreds of new stars, but also holes and sparks blown from very young stars.
“The James Webb Space Telescope is a great achievement, designed to change our view of the universe and provide amazing science lessons,” said NASA director Bill Nelson. . “The Webb telescope will look back more than 13 billion light-years, immediately after the Big Bang, with enough power to show humanity the farthest point of space we’ve ever seen. We are now very close to unlocking the mysteries of the universe, thanks to the skill and expertise of the amazing team behind it.”
The James Webb Space Telescope will open a new chapter for the history of astronomy in particular, and the history of mankind in general. Like every other billion-dollar advanced research device, James Webb will certainly bring back unprecedented data, helping us better understand the universe itself as well as the place of humans in the universe. timeline. And all that we have just talked about is just the beginning, and over time JWST will reveal more and more secrets of the universe.