Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, the new image shows the massive galaxy cluster SMACS J0723.3-7327.
SMACS J0723.3-7327 is a cluster of galaxies within the southern constellation of Volans.
Also known as SMACS 0723 or PSZ1 G284.97-23.69, it is often visited by Hubble and other telescopes in search of the deep past.
We’re looking back in time at this cluster as it appeared approximately 4.6 billion years ago.
The new image of SMACS J0723.3-7327 was taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam).
It is a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totaling 12.5 hours — achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond Hubble’s deepest fields, which took weeks.
The combined mass of SMACS J0723.3-7327 acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it.
Webb’s NIRCam has brought those distant galaxies into sharp focus — they have tiny, faint structures that have never been seen before, including star clusters and diffuse features.
“The first preview of an image from Webb is as spectacular as we all hoped,” said Australian National University’s Professor Matthew Colless.
“A tiny part of the Universe has been imaged more sharply than ever before, showing a myriad of galaxies whose light comes to us across billions of light-years from the deep past.”
“The most distant galaxies have their images magnified by a ‘gravitational lens’ produced by a massive cluster of galaxies in the foreground, in accord with Einstein’s theory of gravity.”
“This is just a taste of what’s to come from this extraordinary telescope, the most powerful tool humanity has yet devised for peering into the Universe.”
“As we look further out and in finer detail than ever before, I’m really excited to see what else Webb will find. I hope that, as in the past, the Universe surprises us with beauty and novelty.”
“The new Webb Deep Field is absolutely stunning in both sharpness and color,” added Swinburne University of Technology’s Dr. Ivo Labbe.
“Compared to Hubble images of the same area, it is as if we were nearsighted before but now wear glasses for the first time and see incredible detail.”
“The deep field is taken in the direction of a gravitational lensing cluster, which acts as a magnifying glass for the galaxies behind it, allowing Webb to see further.”
“This is by far the sharpest and deepest image ever taken of the Universe and a goldmine for studying the first stars and galaxies that formed after the Big Bang.”
“The first public science image released by the Webb team completely blew me away,” said Macquarie University’s Professor Richard de Grijs.
“Looking back to the very infancy of the Universe, the image was much sharper and quite a bit more detailed than I had ever expected.”
“At first glance, its impact rivals that of images. Yet Webb is optimized for much longer wavelengths where it’s so much harder to obtain such sharp images.”
“This is the most sensitive infrared image of distant galaxies ever taken, and its awesome quality promises so much for an amazing future of space-based infrared astronomy.”
“I am more excited about the tantalizing prospects of Webb than I had anticipated. ‘Wow’ just doesn’t cover it this time!”
“It’s amazing to see Webb’s first image — with such a large mirror in space, it is able to capture much more light than Hubble, and, as it looks at redder light than Hubble, it can see galaxies so far away that they are at the beginning of our Universe,” said Dr. Brent Groves, of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).
“Webb’s first image of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is very impressive, and a vast improvement on previous images of this galaxy cluster by Hubble,” said Monash University’s Dr. Michael Brown.
“The richness of the data is immediately clear. One can see images of very distant red galaxies that have been distorted by the gravity of the stars, gas and dark matter within the galaxy cluster.”
“I was also struck by the faint diffuse intracluster light produced by billions of stars that have been torn from their original galaxies.”
“Of course, this is just the beginning and Webb will be producing more impressive detailed views of the Universe over the coming years.”
“Hubble has had an enormous impact in my field of science, extragalactic astronomy, and in culture in general. Hubble took my favorite astronomical image of all time: the Hubble Ultra Deep Field,” said ICRAR’s Dr. Elisabete da Cunha.
“That image was taken by pointing Hubble to a dark patch of sky (i.e., with no stars or nearby galaxies), and just collecting photons for about 10 days. The final image was breathtaking: if you observe for long enough, that tiny dark patch of sky reveals over ten thousand distant galaxies.”
“This completely revolutionized our view of the Universe: there are many more galaxies than we thought there were, and they extend out to larger distances (i.e., earlier times in the Universe) than originally thought.”
“We have observed as far as we can possibly observe with Hubble, and that’s where the Webb comes in.”
“Thanks to its huge mirror and infrared detectors, we will be able to observe even more distant galaxies than with the Hubble — in fact, we expect to observe the very first galaxies that lit up the Universe! It’s extremely exciting!”
“This image harnesses the combined power of Webb and Einstein’s general relativity, boosting and warping the weak light from these early galaxies through the focusing caused by the cluster of galaxies between us and the early Universe. Almost every object is a distant galaxy,” said ICRAR’s Professor Cathryn Trott.
“The cluster of galaxies acts like the lens in your glasses, focusing the light from the earliest galaxies in the Universe.”
“The lens distorts and magnifies their light, allowing us to see fine details of these infant galaxies where they would normally be too faint.”
“For the first time, we can see the details of these earliest galaxies, harboring the first generations of stars to have ever formed in the Universe.”
“These galaxies formed in a mostly dark universe, filled with neutral hydrogen gas, and very different to the cosmos we see today.”
“This image captures the starlight from the earliest objects to have formed in the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang.”
“This starlight is more than 13 billion years old, focused toward Webb by the incredible bending power of a massive cluster of younger galaxies.”
“This image has put our feet into a new higher ground: we can see further than ever, we can see more than ever, we can be closer to our own Universe cradle,” said Griffith University’s Professor Paulo de Souza.
“I feel we still living in caves when it comes to technology. Yes, we can explore the Moon, Mars and beyond within our Solar System and we can see further than ever. Yet, we are unable to reach our closest star within a lifetime. Proxima Centauri at 4.25 light-years from here.”
“Everything we see in that image was set nearly 4.6 billion years ago. Right now, we could well have nothing left there.”
“To know what was there now, we would need to look back there again in 4.6 billion years’ time. This image is a snapshot of a distant past.”
“Wow! Astronomers have been anticipating Webb’s first images, with today’s image offering us an amazing glimpse deep into our Universe’s past, through the gravitational lens of cluster SMACS 0723,” said CSIRO’s Dr. Vanessa Moss.
“These first results are exciting because of the opportunities they unlock for understanding our Universe in richer detail than ever before.”
“Webb is taking photos of the sky at infrared wavelengths, light we can’t see with our eyes. By combining these Webb images with data from other instruments, such as radio, optical and X-ray telescopes, we’ll get an even deeper insight into the birth and death of stars, the formation of planets and the evolution of galaxies.”
“I’m blown away by the very early universe galaxies gravitationally redshifted all over the image,” said University of Queensland’s Dr. Benjamin Pope.
“We’ve seen this kind of physics before, but not in this level of detail.”
“This is absolutely stunning! This galaxy cluster is a gravitational lens that bends light from galaxies that are even farther away, possibly among the very earliest galaxies that formed in the Universe,” said Dr. Kim-Vy Tran from the University of New South Wales.
“The detail in this image shows that the telescope is working even better than predicted before launch, and it is now ready to begin its decade-long life as Earth’s premier infrared observatory,” added Dr. Benjamin Montet, also from the University of New South Wales.
“Over the next few days more early scientific results will be released, including its first spectrum of an exoplanet, which will enable us to understand the composition of that planet’s atmosphere.”
“This is the beginning of the excitement, not the culmination, and I can’t wait to see what Webb data will teach us about planetary atmospheres and stellar physics.”
Source link: https://www.sci.news/astronomy/webbs-first-deep-field-10989.html