Ross: Marveling at the beauty, and horror, of deep space with new telescope photos released

Jul 12, 2022, 7:00 AM | Updated: Jul 13, 2022, 3:01 pm

Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI...

Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

Today, the first images from the James Webb deep space telescope have been posted. You can download them at high-resolution and see a tiny speck of the universe as it would have looked a mere billion years after the first rays of light appeared.

@kironewsradio Dave Ross takes us on a journey through deep space ✨💫 #jameswebbtelescope #jameswebb #fyp #trending #NASA #nasa #seattle #pnw #jameswebbspacetelescope #nasatelescope #deepspace #spacephotography #science #education #news #radio #foryoupage #space ♬ Blade Runner 2049 – Synthwave Goose

You are looking at stars and galaxies that are speeding away from earth at such high speeds the wavelength has been stretched below the visible range into the infrared range – which means an optical telescope would capture none of this.

But the Webb infrared telescope was designed to detect exactly this kind of light so it could be shifted back into a range we can see. The result is like looking at a post card sent 13 billion years ago.

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That image has been on a rough journey too – the light wrestles with gravitational fields strong enough to smear the shapes – like looking through a raindrop on the windshield.

But to me the most terrifying thing about all this is that the first image we’re seeing, according to the NASA news release, displays an area of the sky so small that it would be covered by balancing a grain of sand on your finger at arm’s length as you look up.

A grain of sand at arm’s length.

It’s terrifying because – do you realize how tiny that makes us? My first exposure to the concept of human insignificance was looking down from the Empire State Building at about 10 years old and seeing all those colorful bugs wandering below. With planes and satellites of course, the people vanish entirely.

But now – at the scale of these images – the Earth is a sub atomic particle and we don’t exist.

Which is terrifying because it means every earth-shaking event in our past or future, from a political insurrection to a civilization-ending asteroid strike will go utterly unnoticed by the rest of the universe.

I’m excited about exploring the mysteries of space, but at the same time – I realize that the smarter we get, the tinier we become.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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Ross: Marveling at the beauty, and horror, of deep space with new telescope photos released