Utilizing NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to Study the “First Light” of the Universe
The James Webb Space Telescope from NASA has performed in a manner that can only be described as stellar in its first year of operation.
The observatory, NASA’s largest and most expensive space telescope to date, was launched at the tail end of 2021 after years of delays. It has been living up to its hype. Last July, general society got a first glance at the telescope’s power, when stargazers delivered one of the principal pictures taken by the observatory, showing a group of turning cosmic systems, every one caught in fabulous, brilliant detail from 4.6 billion light years away.
Stars, planets, galaxies, and other astrophysical structures in our own galaxy and beyond have been revealed with unprecedented clarity thanks to JWST’s continued peeling back of cosmic dust.
This week, scientists celebrated the one-year anniversary of JWST with a five-day conference at MIT called “First Light.” Over 150 astronomers from all over the world attended the meeting, many of whom had previously worked directly with JWST data to search for evidence of early light in the universe. During the meeting, there was also a public event at the MIT Museum where astronomers talked about how they used the telescope. Anna-Christina Eilers, the conference’s organizer and Pappalardo Fellow at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, shared with MIT News some highlights of what astronomers have learned during JWST’s first year of observations and what else the telescope might reveal in the future.
We are able to use the telescope in ways that are more daring and ambitious as a result. What we want to try is more inventive and ambitious in the science proposals for the following year of observation.