UW astronomer: NASA’s new telescope shows clearest images of other galaxies to date

Jul 17, 2022, 8:34 AM
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI...
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) unveiled a handful of its first images taken by the James Webb Telescope (JWTS) on Monday, and for many scientists, it’s been an astronomical feat.

James Davenport, an astronomer at the University of Washington, told Gee and Ursula that the findings are just the beginning.

Noting that NASA’s release of the initial five photos taken from the James Webb telescope were merely test images, Davenport said, “knowing that they’re going to do even more with this telescope is really, really exciting.”

“JWTS is the first telescope that will be able to detect the composition of atmospheres of planets around other stars, which is an amazing feat, and it’s something that’s been 20 years in the making,” Davenport said.

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

The once-in-a-generation kind of mission took two decades to plan but the astronomer said was necessary to learn more about the universe.

“It is a very expensive telescope, launching things in outer space is the most expensive way to do things, but it is the only way to do things if you want to get these incredibly precise images, especially in the infrared,” he said.

“It has been a monumental expense but also a huge triumph of engineering,” Davenport continued.

But for the mission that’s taken years to bring to life, he said he felt relief.

“You see all these little galaxies, and they’re all bent. There are little bits of light that are bent, they look like little arcs or little, like little French fries … this is the gravity from a huge clump of galaxies actually bending the light from distant faraway galaxies,” Davenport explained.

“To actually see it so clearly, such a beautiful example of it just so clearly where you can step back and see these little circular ring-like arcs, these little distortions, it’s really amazing. It’s probably one of the best examples of this kind of gravitational lensing I’ve ever seen.”

For those looking to go into sciences and STEM, he said there’s never been a better time to get into astronomy.

“One thing we know for sure is that if there is life in the universe, it is precious, and it is rare. Not every star is going to have people or life around it, so it reminds us to take care of the planet that we’re on and to take care of the life that we do have,” Davenport said.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

King County Courthouse...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

King County mayors pen appeal for help with rise in crime, spar with prosecuting attorney

The collective of mayors want King County and the state to assist their cities, as they are facing a "disturbing" rise in crime.
2 days ago
Blue Angels jets fly as thousands are gathered at the Jones Beach for the Bethpage Air Show in New ...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Gee and Ursula’s Top Stories: The Blue Angels’ return is ‘overrated’

Griner faces 9-year sentence in Russia, Alaska Airlines accused of racial discrimination, and Gee gives out his hottest take about the Blue Angels.
3 days ago
Frank Sumrall

Gee and Ursula’s Top Stories: Early primary results are in, hazard pay ends next month

Hosts Gee and Ursula discuss early primary results, the end of hazard pay, and how Amazon saved the day after a fundraiser went viral to stop rent hikes.
4 days ago
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Feds spotlight Aurora in human trafficking crackdown, arrest 70 in PNW

On average, 300 people buy sex along Aurora Avenue in King County every day, according to HSI Special Agent Jayme McFarland.
5 days ago
Julio Rodriguez #44 of the Seattle Mariners injures himself on a strike three swinging in the eight...
Frank Sumrall

‘It’s going to be a fun second half of the year,’ Mariners announcer Rick Rizzs declares despite recent injuries

The rookie All-Star has 18 home runs and 57 RBIs on a .271 batting average through 96 games while substantially leading the AL Rookie of the Year race.
6 days ago
(KIRO 7)...
Frank Sumrall

Gee and Ursula debate legalizing prostitution as western states start to consider the idea

Prostitution on Aurora Ave has become so severe, it became the subject of a documentary, released this year, called "Sweetheart Deal."
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
UW astronomer: NASA’s new telescope shows clearest images of other galaxies to date