The first images from a powerful space telescope developed with Canada’s participation are set to be released on July 12, providing a fresh look into the universe.
“This is the biggest, most complex space telescope that has ever been launched into space,” Canadian Space Agency (CSA) spokesperson Sarah Gallagher told The Epoch Times on July 11.
Gallagher stated that the NASA-led project was possible because of international cooperation between the CSA (Community Space Agency) and the European Space Agency.
The first cosmic objects captured by the James Webb telescope are the Carina Nebula, the exoplanet WASP-96 b, the Southern Ring Nebula, galaxies of Stephan’s Quintet, and a galaxy cluster called SMACS 0723.
“These represent the first wave of full-colour scientific images and spectra the observatory has gathered, and the official beginning of Webb’s general science operations,” says a July 8 statement from CSA.
The first targets were selected by an international committee that included representatives from both the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Space Agency Space Telescope Science Institute.
Gallagher states that research teams eagerly await access to the data, and many have written research proposals for years in anticipation.
” “It is hard to overstate the excitement people are,” she stated.
She claims that the quality of early images taken with the telescope was “beyond expectations .”
” It’s beautiful visually and it’s exciting scientifically. She says that there are many new discoveries already, which is exciting.
Canada provided two components to the telescope: the Fine Guidance Sensor, (FGS), and the Near-Infrared Imager (NIRISS). They were constructed by Honeywell, an American multinational conglomerate.
The FGS allows the telescope’s focus to be set on specific objects. While the NIRISS can study astronomical objects with scientific precision, the NGS is used for pointing and focusing.
In exchange for CSA’s contribution to the telescope, Canada receives a guaranteed share of observation time.
The Canadian Webb science team will be able to use up to 450 hours of observation time.
One team, led by David Lafreniere of Universite De Montreal, will examine the atmospheres exoplanets. Chris Willott, National Research Council’s chief scientist will be leading a team that studies early galaxies as well as galaxy clusters.
A number of smaller projects can be divided to observe phenomena such as rogue planets or exozodiacal discs.
Canadian Astronomers will be also provided with 5 per cent of Webb’s observation time for general observations.
The James Webb telescope is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope but makes a significant technological leap.
Gallagher claims Webb is “several generation removed from Hubble”, due to the advanced technology.
Webb should not be considered as a replacement for Hubble, since their capabilities are different. Webb will use infrared wavelengths to see the universe while Hubble uses optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
Webb’s primary mirror measures 6.5m in diameter. This is compared to Hubble’s 2.4-metre.
Hubble orbits around the Earth at a distance of around 500 kilometres, whereas Webb is 1.5 million kilometres away, located at the second Lagrange Point. It is here that the Earth’s gravity and the sun balance, allowing the telescope to stay in its place without consuming too much energy.
Gallagher says Webb’s life expectancy is based on the amount of the propellant to maintain it in place, which is estimated at 10 years.
Noe chartier is an Epoch Times reporter, based in Montreal.