The first scientific color images of the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful telescope ever launched into orbit, will be released in mid-July, AFP quoted a program official as saying on Monday.
James Webb Space TelescopePhoto by NASA
The images, which are said to be impressive and await researchers around the world, should show the tremendous potential of James Webb.
The exact date of publication of this surprise package will be clarified later, and the content will remain confidential until the last moment.
The images taken by the four scientific instruments on board will be published, promised Klaus Pontopidan, head of the James Webb Research Institute at the Space Telescope, which operates the Baltimore Telescope.
Another indication is that “all topics” of the telescope’s scientific observations will be presented, he said at a press conference. These include the early universe, the life cycle of stars, and exoplanets.
The telescope works with infrared, then it will notice “colors in the eyes that are not in the visible spectrum,” said Pontopidan. Thus, before publication, it will be necessary to “translate infrared colors into visible colors that people can see.”
At the end of April, James Webb completed the phase of aligning his huge main mirror with four scientific instruments.
Images of the telescope have already been published, but they have been used to measure instruments rather than for astrophysical targets of scientific interest.
In order to reveal the images in mid-July, a commission was convened to define a long list of possible targets, sorted by priority. “Which of them will eventually become a target depends on when the telescope will be able to observe them,” Pontopidan said.
The $ 10 billion international project was successfully launched over Christmas and is now 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
After the publication of these first scientific images, the first official period of observations will begin. One of the goals of the James Webb Telescope was to observe the first galaxies to form just hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang.
The mission of the telescope should last at least five years, but it has enough fuel to work for more than 20 years.