NASA’s Webb Sheds Light on Galaxy Evolution, Black Holes

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

NASA Mission Update

  • In an enormous new image, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals never-before-seen details of galaxy group “Stephan’s Quintet”
  • The close proximity of Stephan’s Quintet gives astronomers a ringside seat to galactic mergers, interactions
  • Webb’s new image shows in rare detail how interacting galaxies trigger star formation in each other and how gas in galaxies is being disturbed
  • The image also shows outflows driven by a black hole in Stephan’s Quintet in a level of detail never seen before
  • Tight galaxy groups like this may have been more common in the early universe when superheated, infalling material may have fueled very energetic black holes

Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, is best known for being prominently featured in the holiday classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Today, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals Stephan’s Quintet in a new light. This enormous mosaic is Webb’s largest image to date, covering about one-fifth of the Moon’s diameter. It contains over 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files. The information from Webb provides new insights into how galactic interactions may have driven galaxy evolution in the early universe.

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NASA’s Webb Reveals Cosmic Cliffs, Glittering Landscape of Star Birth

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

NASA Mission Update

  • NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals emerging stellar nurseries and individual stars in the Carina Nebula that were previously obscured
  • Images of “Cosmic Cliffs” showcase Webb’s cameras’ capabilities to peer through cosmic dust, shedding new light on how stars form
  • Objects in the earliest, rapid phases of star formation are difficult to capture, but Webb’s extreme sensitivity, spatial resolution, and imaging capability can chronicle these elusive events

This landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” speckled with glittering stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth.

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NASA Shares List of Cosmic Targets for Webb Telescope’s First Images

This image mosaic was created by pointing the telescope at a bright, isolated star in the constellation Ursa Major known as HD 84406. This star was chosen specifically because it is easily identifiable and not crowded by other stars of similar brightness, which helps to reduce background confusion. Each dot within the mosaic is labeled by the corresponding primary mirror segment that captured it. These initial results closely match expectations and simulations. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Mission Update

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), will soon reveal unprecedented and detailed views of the universe, with the upcoming release of its first full-color images and spectroscopic data.

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NASA Updates Coverage for Webb Telescope’s First Images Reveal

Artist rending showing light reflecting off of the primary and secondary mirrors of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, after it has deployed in space. (Credits: NASA/Mike McClare)

NASA Mission Update

NASA, in partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), will release the James Webb Space Telescope’s first full-color images and spectroscopic data during a live broadcast beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 12, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Released one by one, these first images from the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope will demonstrate Webb at its full power as it begins its mission to unfold the infrared universe.

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First Images From NASA’s Webb Space Telescope to be Released July 12

Artist rending showing light reflecting off of the primary and secondary mirrors of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, after it has deployed in space. (Credits: NASA/Mike McClare)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), will release its first full-color images and spectroscopic data on July 12, 2022. As the largest and most complex observatory ever launched into space, 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. This careful process, not to mention years of new technology development and mission planning, has built up to the first images and data: a demonstration of Webb at its full power, ready to begin its science mission and unfold the infrared universe.

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NASA, DLR to End SOFIA Operations

SOFIA flying observatory (Credit: NASA-Jim Ross)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and its partners at the German Space Agency at the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) will conclude the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission, after a successful eight years of science. SOFIA will end operations no later than Sept. 30, 2022, at the conclusion of its current mission extension.

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Germany Made Important Contributions to James Webb Space Telescope

Shown fully stowed, the James Webb Space Telescope’s Deployable Tower Assembly that connects the upper and lower sections of the spacecraft will extend 48 inches (1.2 meters) after launch. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)
  • On December 25, 2021 at 9:20 a.m. local time (1:20 p.m. CET), the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest space telescope of all time to date, took off from the spaceport of the European Space Agency on an Ariane 5 launcher.
  • A total of four instruments are housed on James Webb.  Two of them come from Europe and have German shares.
  • The German Space Agency at DLR coordinates the German contributions for ESA and for an instrument in the national space program.

KOUROU, French Guiana (DLR PR) — James Webb Space Telescope – JWST for short – was launched from the European spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana) on its journey to Lagrange Point 2, 1.5 million kilometers away.  James Webb is the largest and most expensive space telescope of all time, which has now started its long journey into the depths of space with an Ariane 5 upper stage ‘Made in Germany’. In addition, MIRI (Mid Infrared Iinstrument) and Near Infrared ( Near Infrared Spectrograph) – two of the four instruments on board – German parts: The near-infrared instrument NIRSpec was built by Airbus in Ottobrunn and Friedrichshafen. With this instrument, scientists from all over the world want to analyze the ‘hours of birth’ of the universe. NIRSpec is primarily intended to detect the radiation from the first galaxies that formed shortly after the Big Bang. 

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Canada Plays Major Role in James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope after separation from its Ariane 5 booster. (Credit; NASA)

LONGUEUIL, Que., December 25, 2021 – Today, the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) was successfully launched at 7:20 a.m. ET from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The telescope, which promises to change our understanding of the universe, is an international collaboration between the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), NASA, and the European Space Agency. Through strategic investments in space research and development and our world-class expertise in astronomy, science and engineering, Canada’s  contribution opens tremendous science opportunities for Canadian astronomers, who will be among the first to have access to the data collected by Webb, and to study it.

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AFRL Collaborates with Magdalena Ridge Observatory to Further Space Exploration

The proposed Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer site, which will ultimately be composed of ten 1.4-meter telescopes. The site is managed by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology located in Socorro, New Mexico. (Credit: NMT)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL) – New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) astronomers are one-step closer to having their own high-powered window to space and the universe, after receiving congressional funding for the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer (MROI).

The university will receive $6.2 million in congressional funds to complete the first phase of the anticipated $30 million five-year project to build three telescopes and two scientific instruments of the MROI in Socorro, New Mexico.

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Planned Comsat Constellations Now Exceed 94,000 Satellites

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A wave of new applications submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week for approval for communications satellites operating in the V band has sent the number of spacecraft in large constellations soaring to nearly 100,000.

A list compiled by Parabolic Arc shows that 94,255 satellites are included in the constellations. That number includes 29,439 satellites approved by the FCC or in development in China. The FCC has applicants pending before it for another 64,816 satellites.

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Growing Number of Satellites Contribute Significant Light Pollution to Night Skies

Trails caused by the fifth deployment of satellites making up the Starlink constellation. (Credit: Andreas Möller)

LONDON (Royal Astronomical Society PR) — Scientists reported new research results today suggesting that artificial objects in orbit around the Earth are brightening night skies on our planet significantly more than previously understood.

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2020 a Busy Year for Suborbital Launches

New Shepard landing on the pad in West Texas on October 13, 2020, with the NASA Lunar Landing Sensor Demo onboard. (Credit: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Suborbital launch used to be a sleepy field that rarely attracted much public attention. Let’s face it, atmospheric research and student experiments are not front-page news. Sounding rockets don’t have the majesty and power of a Falcon 9 or Atlas V.

In recent years, exciting new entrants in the field and widespread streaming of launches have made suborbital flights exciting. Last year saw important suborbital flight tests by SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and Skyrora that garnered worldwide interest.

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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Congress Directs NSF to Provide Report on Arecibo Observatory

Damage sustained at the Arecibo Observatory 305-meter telescope. (Credit: UCF)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Congress has directed that National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide it with a report on the future of the Arecibo Observatory (AO), whose main 305-meter radio telescope collapsed on Dec. 1.

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Study Confirms Dark Coating Can Reduce Satellite Reflectivity

The trail of a Starlink satellite (the line from upper right to lower left) captured by the Murikabushi Telescope on April 10, 2020. (Credit: NAOJ)

TOKYO (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan PR) — Observations conducted by the Murikabushi Telescope of Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory confirmed that dark coating can reduce satellite reflectivity by half.

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