First Images From NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope
The first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have been released, according to Space.com. Slashdot readers g01d4 and fahrbot-bot first shared the news. From the report: The main photo, which doesn’t even hint at the power Webb will bring to the universe once it’s fully operational, shows a star called HD 84406 and is only a portion of the mosaic taken over 25 hours beginning on Feb. 2, during the ongoing process to align the observatory’s segmented mirror. “The entire Webb team is ecstatic at how well the first steps of taking images and aligning the telescope are proceeding,” Marcia Rieke, principal investigator of the instrument that Webb relies on for the alignment procedure and an astronomer at the University of Arizona, said in a NASA statement.

JWST is now 48 days out from its Christmas Day launch and in the midst of a commissioning process expected to last about six months. The telescope spent the first month unfolding from its launch configuration and trekking out nearly 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from Earth. During the bulk of the remaining time, scientists are focusing on waking and calibrating the observatory’s instruments and making the minute adjustments to the telescope’s 18 golden mirror segments that are necessary for crisp, clear images of the deep universe. The process is going well, according to NASA.

Still, the telescope has a long way to go, as today’s image of HD 84406 shows. […] HD 84406 is in the constellation Ursa Major, or Big Bear, but is not visible from Earth without a telescope. But it was a perfect early target for Webb because its brightness is steady and the observatory can always spot it, so launch or deployment delays wouldn’t affect the plan. Oddly, JWST won’t be able to observe HD 84406 later in its tenure; once the telescope is focused, this star will be too bright to look at. Previously, JWST personnel have said that the telescope will be seeing fairly sharply by late April. In addition to the image of HD 84406, NASA also shared a “selfie” image, which Gizmodo and CNN decided to focus on in their reports.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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