The New Telescope on the Block: James Webb

The James Webb Space Telescope at NASA

The James Webb Space Telescope is our ticket to outer space.

We’ve all been amazed by the pictures sent back from Hubble over the past 31 years – comets, plants, moons, distant galaxies, and more.

Scientists have learned a phenomenal amount about the universe from Hubble. Hubble is a space telescope that was expected to last only about 15 years, but which has survived long past that!

And now, Hubble has help. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched on December 25, 2021. The telescope is very big—as big as a three-story building! To get it into space, scientists designed a way to fold its mirrors into a small package to fit inside a rocket for its journey into space. Once it was in space, it unfolded into its actual size.

What do we hope to see with the telescope? The JWST is about 100 times more powerful than the Hubble. It will be able to see far deeper into space, about 13.7 billion light-years away—that means it can look 13.7 years back in time! Scientists will be studying distant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn, looking for other alien planets, and staying on the lookout for signs of life.

On February 11, 2022, the telescope captured its first images of starlight.

stars from the JWST
The first image of starlight from the JWST (credit: NASA)

It’s going to be very exciting to see what else the JWST will discover!

You can follow along with the JWST at the NASA website.

Learn more about what the JWST might see with this sample chapter from THE UNIVERSE!

The Universe

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