James Webb telescope sets course for new era of astronomy studies

Aug 1, 2022, 12:46 PM

Kids and adults gathered at the Ontario Science Centre in a area set up for viewing the NASA releas...

Kids and adults gathered at the Ontario Science Centre in a area set up for viewing the NASA release of images from the James Webb space telescope. CORONAPD Toronto Star. (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

(Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The James Webb Telescope released the clearest and most detailed image of the distant corners of universe ever taken last month, exciting astronomers about the potential this telescope can photograph and uncover.

The telescope even set a new record for discovering a galaxy, GLASS-z13, that is approximately 13.5 billion years old. The galaxy formed 300 million years after the Big Bang, 100 million years older than anything previously discovered in space.

“Hubble is still up there and kicking, it’s 30 years old but still working,” said Steven Finkelstein, an astronomy professor for the University of Texas, on the Dori Monson Show. Finkelstein led a team to discover and photograph GLASS-z13 with the James Webb telescope. “But James Webb is bigger, with a bigger mirror, so that lets us see farther into the universe. It observes mostly in the infrared. This is kind of how night vision goggles work, it sees heat from objects that are a little bit redder than our eyes can see and that lets us do a whole different kind of astronomy than what we can do with the Hubble Space Telescope.”

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

The image of the universe, named “Webb’s First Deep Field,” is the first full-color image from the $10 billion observatory that launched into space last year, and the highest-resolution infrared view of the universe yet captured.

The galaxy is also called Maisie’s Galaxy, named after Finkelstein’s 9-year-old daughter.

“We don’t usually get to name things in astronomy. But when you’re writing a paper about one galaxy, you refer to it a lot,” Finkelstein said. “And we gave it a proper name, which is a number that is its coordinates in the sky, similar to latitude and longitude. But you get real tired of writing that over and over again, and you’re not going to say it out loud in a talk. So, I sort of gave it the shorthand Maisie’s Galaxy when I was writing the paper, because we’d found it on her birthday just a few weeks ago.”

Webb’s first image took just 12.5 hours to compile, compared to the weeks it took Hubble to observe other deep fields when photographing and documenting.

“We didn’t know when a star started forming, and predictions were kind of all over the place. Maybe stars started forming pretty soon after the Big Bang, maybe it took hundreds of millions of years?” said Finkelstein. “Now we’re pushing into that window. We now see at least a few galaxies coming from only 300 million years after the Big Bang. And the important thing to keep in mind is, this is with one week of data from this telescope. This telescope should work for close to 20 years.”

After shifting the telescope’s focus to Jupiter and Saturn, James Webb will be a part of multiple studies for red dwarfs, distant galaxies that are colliding with one another, and to look for hot, rocky planets around other stars.

Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dori Monson Show

Dori Monson

Dori Monson stage show...

MyNorthwest Staff

Watch: Dori Monson’s ‘What are the Odds?’ stage show

In 2019, Dori Monson hosted a stage show - 'What are the Odds?' - which introduced you to the people who helped shape his improbable career.

5 months ago

Dori Monson welcomes the Moose back to KIRO. Follow @

MyNorthwest Staff

A collection of the all-time best Dori Monson stories

With the passing of Dori Monson, a collection of some of his top stories to remember all the hard work Dori brought to Seattle.

5 months ago

Alaska, fishing...

KIRO Newsradio staff

Listen: Friends, colleagues offer tribute to KIRO Newsradio’s Dori Monson

All day Monday, KIRO Newsradio's John Curley talked to friends, news makers, and more in tribute to Dori Monson.

5 months ago

Dori Monson Shorecrest...

Dori Monson Show

How to support charities reflecting Dori Monson’s values, passions

In tribute to Dori Monson, learn more about how you can support these three charities which best reflect his values, passions, and advocacy.

5 months ago

Dori Monson Nicole Thompson...

MyNorthwest Staff

Broadcasters, politicians, coworkers and friends remember Dori Monson

Dori Monson, a longtime KIRO Newsradio host, passed away Saturday. He is remembered by public figures, broadcasters, coworkers, and listeners.

5 months ago

Dori Monson...

MyNorthwest Staff

Longtime KIRO Newsradio host Dori Monson dies at age 61

We are deeply saddened to announce Dori Monson's sudden passing on Saturday, December 31, 2022, at a Seattle hospital.

5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

James Webb telescope sets course for new era of astronomy studies