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Joe Biden will unveil James Webb space telescope image today

US President Joe Biden will release the first ever deep space image from NASA’s new super space telescope later today.

The eagerly-anticipated picture will offer a sneak peek ahead of tomorrow’s full reveal of images from the $10 billion (£7.4 billion) James Webb Space Telescope.

It was launched at the end of last year with the aim of looking back in time to the dawn of the universe and to capture what happened just a couple of hundred million years after the Big Bang.  

NASA tweeted: ‘We can’t contain the excitement for @NASAWebb’s first full-color images!

‘President Biden will unveil one of the space telescope’s first images of deep space as a preview of what’s ahead.’

These will be the first science-quality pictures, although the US space agency did share an engineering test photo last week as a little preview.

President Biden will reveal the first image at 17:00 ET (22:00 BST) on NASA TV, while MailOnline will also be covering the unveiling live. 

US President Joe Biden will release the first ever deep space image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (pictured) later today 

NASA tweeted: 'We can't contain the excitement for @NASAWebb's first full-color images!'

NASA tweeted: ‘We can’t contain the excitement for @NASAWebb’s first full-color images!’

President Joe Biden will reveal the first image at 17:00 ET (22:00 BST) on NASA TV , while MailOnline will also be covering the unveiling live

President Joe Biden will reveal the first image at 17:00 ET (22:00 BST) on NASA TV , while MailOnline will also be covering the unveiling live

TARGETS ACQUIRED! WHAT JAMES WEBB WILL CAPTURE FIRST 

The targets of the James Webb Space Telescope’s first images have been announced. They are: 

Massive foreground galaxy clusters magnify and distort the light of objects behind them, permitting a deep field view into both the extremely distant and intrinsically faint galaxy populations. 

The Carina Nebula is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky, located approximately 7,600 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. Nebulae are stellar nurseries where stars form. The Carina Nebula is home to many massive stars, several times larger than the sun.

WASP-96 b is a giant planet outside our solar system, composed mainly of gas. The planet, located nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth, orbits its star every 3.4 days. It has about half the mass of Jupiter, and its discovery was announced in 2014. 

The Southern Ring, or ‘Eight-Burst’ nebula, is a planetary nebula – an expanding cloud of gas, surrounding a dying star. It is nearly half a light-year in diameter and is located approximately 2,000 light years away from Earth. 

About 290 million light-years away, Stephan’s Quintet is located in the constellation Pegasus. It is notable for being the first compact galaxy group ever discovered in 1877. Four of the five galaxies within the quintet are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters.

Over the past few months it has also released a set of engineering pictures to demonstrate that all the hardware is working as it should on astronomy’s new space telescope.

Those images showed slightly different views of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.

Astronomers have previously said the first pictures would be ‘sure to deliver a long-waited ‘wow’ when they are unveiled next week.

NASA added that it will be ‘a unique moment for us all to stop and marvel at a view humanity has never seen before’.

Last week the space agency announced what the first targets would be for Webb.

They include the Carina Nebula, which is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky.

It is home to many massive stars several times larger than the sun.

Other images will be of WASP-96 b — a giant planet outside our solar system — the Southern Ring Nebula, Stephan’s Quintet and SMACS 0723. 

Webb has been going through a six-month period of preparation before it can begin science work, calibrating its instruments to its space environment and aligning its mirrors.

It was launched to space on December 25 last year and later settled into orbit one million miles from our planet.

Scientists hope the observatory — a replacement for the 32-year-old Hubble telescope — will be able to peer back in time 13.5 billion years to a point within a mere 100-200 million years of the Big Bang.

It has an ambitious mission to study the early universe, work out how fast it is now expanding and analyse objects throughout the cosmos ranging from galaxies to exoplanets.

The telescope has a famous golden mirror that is made up of 18 individual hexagonal segments, each controlled by seven actuators that allow for precise movement and focusing.  

They had to be slowly and meticulously deployed over the past six months to prepare James Webb for its science mission.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said earlier this month that Webb would be able to gaze further into space than any telescope before it.

‘It’s going to explore objects in the solar system and atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, giving us clues as to whether potentially their atmospheres are similar to our own,’ he said.

‘It may answer some questions that we have: Where do we come from? What more is out there? Who are we? 

‘And of course, it’s going to answer some questions that we don’t even know what the questions are.’ 

Webb’s infrared capabilities allow it to see back in time to the Big Bang, which happened 13.8 billion years ago.

As the universe is expanding, light from the earliest stars shifts from the ultraviolet and visible wavelengths it was emitted in, to longer infrared wavelengths.

Astronomers will use Webb to observe the infrared universe, analyse the data collected, and publish scientific papers on their discoveries.

Last week the space agency announced what the first targets would be for Webb. They include the Carina Nebula, which is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky

Last week the space agency announced what the first targets would be for Webb. They include the Carina Nebula, which is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky

Last week NASA shared a 'teaser' image ahead of the eagerly-anticipated release of the first deep-space pictures from its James Webb Space Telescope

Last week NASA shared a ‘teaser’ image ahead of the eagerly-anticipated release of the first deep-space pictures from its James Webb Space Telescope

In February, NASA unveiled the first ever images from James Webb. The result was an image mosaic of 18 randomly organised dots of starlight (pictured), the product of Webb's unaligned mirror segments all reflecting light from the same star back at its secondary mirror

In February, NASA unveiled the first ever images from James Webb. The result was an image mosaic of 18 randomly organised dots of starlight (pictured), the product of Webb’s unaligned mirror segments all reflecting light from the same star back at its secondary mirror

The images included a 'selfie' of $10 billion (£7.4 billion) telescope's primary mirror (pictured)

The images included a ‘selfie’ of $10 billion (£7.4 billion) telescope’s primary mirror (pictured)

This image mosaic was created by pointing the telescope at a bright, isolated star in the constellation Ursa Major known as HD 84406

This image mosaic was created by pointing the telescope at a bright, isolated star in the constellation Ursa Major known as HD 84406

Instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope 

NIRCam (Near InfraRed Camera) an infrared imager from the edge of the visible through the near infrared  

NIRSpec (Near InfraRed Spectrograph) will also perform spectroscopy over the same wavelength range. 

MIRI (Mid-InfraRed Instrument) will measure the mid-to-long-infrared wavelength range from 5 to 27 micrometers.

FGS/NIRISS (Fine Guidance Sensor and Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph), is used to stabilise the line-of-sight of the observatory during science observations.  

Beyond what is already planned for Webb, there are the unexpected discoveries astronomers can’t anticipate. 

In 1990, when Hubble was launched, dark energy was completely unknown. Now it is one of the most exciting areas of astrophysics.

Scientists are now eagerly-awaiting what secrets James Webb might unlock and what this could mean for our understanding of the universe.

Described by NASA as the premier space-science observatory of the next decade, Webb will mainly view the cosmos in the infrared spectrum, allowing it to gaze through clouds of gas and dust where stars are being born. 

In comparison, its predecessor Hubble has operated primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths since its 1990 launch.

Webb is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble, enabling it to observe objects at greater distances, thus farther back in time, than Hubble or any other telescope. 

NASA likes to think of James Webb as a successor to Hubble rather than a replacement, as the two will work in tandem for a while. 

Currently, the earliest cosmological observations date to within 330 million years of the Big Bang, but with Webb’s capacities, astronomers believe they will easily break the record. 

James Webb began development in 1996 and was originally envisaged to launch in 2007, but a major redesign in 2005 put this back and a series of further delays led to it eventually making it to orbit at the end of last year.

The observatory and most of its instruments have an operating temperature of roughly 40 Kelvin – about minus 387 Fahrenheit (minus 233 Celsius).

It is the world’s biggest and most powerful orbital space telescope, capable of peering back 100-200 million years after the Big Bang. 

James Webb's primary mirror consists of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-plated beryllium metal, and measures 21 feet 4 inches (6.5 metres) in diameter. It is supported by three shallow carbon fibre tubes, or struts, that extend out from the large primary mirror

James Webb’s primary mirror consists of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-plated beryllium metal, and measures 21 feet 4 inches (6.5 metres) in diameter. It is supported by three shallow carbon fibre tubes, or struts, that extend out from the large primary mirror

THE JAMES WEBB TELESCOPE

The James Webb telescope has been described as a ‘time machine’ that could help unravel the secrets of our universe.

The telescope will be used to look back to the first galaxies born in the early universe more than 13.5 billion years ago, and observe the sources of stars, exoplanets, and even the moons and planets of our solar system.

The vast telescope, which has already cost more than $7 billion (£5 billion), is considered a successor to the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope

The James Webb Telescope and most of its instruments have an operating temperature of roughly 40 Kelvin – about minus 387 Fahrenheit (minus 233 Celsius).

It is the world’s biggest and most powerful orbital space telescope, capable of peering back 100-200 million years after the Big Bang.


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