NASA's James Webb Space Telescope takes a space selfie

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Updated: Feb 12, 2022, 03:08 PM(IST)

In this combination of images, an artist's rendering provided by Northrop Grumman via NASA shows the James Webb Space Telescope can be seen along with HD 84406 in the constellation Ursa Major can be seen Photograph:( Twitter )

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The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies

James Webb Space Telescope of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has taken a space selfie and spotted its first star.

The first picture sent back of the cosmos is far from stunning: 18 blurry white dots on a black background, all showing the same object: HD 84406 a bright, isolated star located in the Ursa Major, or "The Big Dipper," constellation but too faint to be seen from Earth with the naked eye.

"The entire Webb team is ecstatic at how well the first steps of taking images and aligning the telescope are proceeding," said Marcia Rieke, principal investigator for the NIRCam instrument and regents professor of astronomy, University of Arizona, in a statement.

"We were so happy to see that light make its way into NIRCam."

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Designed to give the world an unprecedented glimpse of infant galaxies in the early stages of the universe, Webb reached its destination at a position of gravitational equilibrium known as the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, or L2, arriving one month after launch.

Besides making stellar observations, Webb will scan the atmospheres of alien worlds for possible signs of life.

The mirrors on the $10 billion observatory still must be meticulously aligned, the infrared detectors sufficiently chilled and the scientific instruments calibrated before observations can begin in June.

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Considered the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which orbits 330 miles (530 kilometers) up, Webb is too far away for emergency repairs.

Sometime in June, NASA expects to make public its "early release observations," a 'greatest hits' collection of initial images used to demonstrate proper functioning of Webb's instruments during its commissioning phase.

The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies. Northrop Grumman Corp was the primary contractor.

Whether chasing optical and ultraviolet light like Hubble or infrared light like Webb, telescopes can see farther and more clearly when operating above Earth’s distorting atmosphere. That’s why NASA teamed up with the European and Canadian space agencies to get Webb and its mirror — the largest ever launched — into the cosmos.

(With inputs from agencies)

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