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NASA’s new telescope shows dying stars and dancing galaxies

NASA unveiled a fresh batch of images from its powerful new space telescope on Tuesday, including a sparkling blue and orange shot of a dying star.

NASA, NASA Webb Space Images,This combination of images provided by NASA on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 shows a side-by-side comparison of observations of the South Ring Nebula in near-infrared light, left, and mid-infrared light, right, from the Telescope Webb. (NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI via AP)

NASA unveiled a fresh batch of images from its powerful new space telescope on Tuesday, including a sparkling blue and orange shot of a dying star. The first image from the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope was released Monday at the White House – a jumble of distant galaxies that have gone further into the cosmos than humanity has ever seen.

The four additional photos released on Tuesday included more cosmic beauty shots. With one exception, the latest images showed parts of the universe seen by other telescopes. But Webb’s sheer power, remote location from Earth, and use of the infrared light spectrum showed them in a new light.

“Each image is a new discovery and each will give humanity a view of humanity that we have never seen before,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Tuesday, gushing over images. showing “star formation, devouring black holes”.

Webb’s use of the infrared light spectrum allows the telescope to see through cosmic dust and “see the light of distant light from the corners of the universe,” he said.

“We have really changed the understanding of our universe,” said European Space Agency Director General Josef Aschbacher.

The European and Canadian space agencies joined NASA to build the mighty telescope.

On tap Tuesday:

— The Southern Ring Nebula, sometimes called the “Eight Shards”. About 2,500 light-years away, it shows an expanding cloud of gas surrounding a dying star. A light year is 5.8 trillion miles.

The South Ring Nebula is shown here in near-infrared (left) and mid-infrared (right). Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI

— Carina Nebula, one of the brightest stellar nurseries in the sky, about 7,600 light-years away.

The Carina Nebula is a hotbed of star formation. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI)

— Five galaxies in a cosmic dance, 290 million light-years away. Stephan’s Quintet was first seen 225 years ago in the constellation Pegasus.

This image of Stephan’s Quintet was made using data from NIRSpec and MIRI. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI)

— A bluish giant planet called WASP-96b. It is about the size of Saturn and is 1,150 light years away. A gaseous planet is not a candidate for life elsewhere but a key target for astronomers.

The first spectrum of an exoplanet captured by Webb (Image credit: NASA)

The images were released one by one at an event at NASA’s Goddard Space Center that included cheerleaders with pom poms the color of the telescope’s golden mirrors.

The world’s largest and most powerful space telescope took off last December from French Guiana in South America. It reached its vantage point 1.6 million kilometers from Earth in January. Then the long process began of aligning the mirrors, cooling the infrared detectors enough to operate, and calibrating the scientific instruments, all protected by a tennis-court-sized sunshade that keeps the telescope cool.

Webb is considered the successor to the highly successful but aging Hubble Space Telescope.

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