New space telescope with Tucson roots beams back dazzling test images | Local news – Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona 2022-05-11 11:00:00 –

NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope is still about two months away from the first scientific observations, but so far it has already surprised those who have returned to Earth.

Astronomers show on Monday a comparison of one of the Webb’s infrared test images of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Heaven, with the same view captured by NASA’s former infrared observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope. bottom.

Infrared images of the Large Magellanic Cloud taken several years ago by NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope blend into a recent, much clearer test image of the same satellite galaxy taken by a mid-infrared device with the new James Webb Space Telescope. increase.


What looks like a blurry orange and white mass in a Spitzer image is sharpened to clear stars and gas whispering clouds when viewed using Webb’s Mid-Infrared Device (MIRI).

George Rieke, a professor of regent astronomy at the University of Arizona, helped design MIRI and is currently the leader of the science team for this instrument. His wife, Marcia Rieke, a professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, leads the team that built Webb’s key optical sensors, and she continues to be the lead scientist for devices known as near-infrared cameras or NIRCam.

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“Until you actually see such an image, you actually internalized it and said,’Wow!’,” Masha Rieke said at a NASA briefing on Monday about the $ 10 billion telescope calibration process. rice field. I’m going to learn. “

Scientists completed the adjustment of each of Webb’s 18 mirror segments at the end of last month and are currently in the test run phase of various spacecraft equipment.

The first scientific observations are scheduled to begin in July, but NASA has kept the identity of Webb’s first official target secret for now.

telescope, It was launched into space about 30 years after the Hubble Space Telescope.Is designed to explore the universe both near and far, from the atmosphere of satellites orbiting the planets of our own solar system to the farthest observable galaxies in the early universe.

Launched into space from a South American spaceport on Christmas dayWebb is the largest and most powerful observatory ever sent to space.

Each of its individual mirror segments is larger than the entire Spitzer mirror and features an improved detector that allows astronomers to look into the infrared sky with unprecedented clarity and depth.

It reached its final destination on January 24: an orbital point around the Sun that keeps it in line with the Earth at a distance of about 1 million miles.

When science begins, U of A researchers should be in the midst of that... NASA has allocated 13% of Webb’s total observation time to the University of Tucson, the world’s largest astronomy center.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.Contact reporter Henry Breen hbrean@tucson.com Or 573-4283. On Twitter: @RefriedBrean

New space telescope with Tucson roots beams back dazzling test images | Local news Source link New space telescope with Tucson roots beams back dazzling test images | Local news

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