The main purpose of the James Webb Space Telescope is exploring strange worlds, searching for life in the galaxy, and understanding the origins of the universe. It is the long-awaited successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA is building and launching the telescope in partnership with ESA and Canada.
The telescope will launch on December 18, 2021, which will propel it to nearly a million miles away. According to NASA scientists, it will usher in a new age of astronomy when it fully deploys in space, which shows things that have never been seen before. Even before the Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990, scientists started thinking about a follow-up. After more than three decades in space, it is not sure how long Hubble will scan and photograph the universe.
This new telescope was supposed to launch in 2010 and cost around $ 1 million. The scientists say that the wait will be worthwhile because it will bring new and revealing glimpses of the universe when it is launched. According to the scientists, they are going right up to the edge of the observable universe with this new telescope.
Advantages of James Web Space Telescope –
This new telescope will surpass Hubble in many ways. With this telescope, astronomers will not only be able to look farther out in space but also further back in time. It will search for the 1st galaxies and stars of the universe. Scientists will be able to scrutinize numerous exoplanets. They are the planets that orbit stars other than our sun. Scientists will even try to find signs of life there. The Webb is a machine for answering unanswered questions about the universe and exploring what has been unexplored until now. According to Amber Straughn, an astrophysicist at NASA who works on the Webb, “What we’re going to get is a telescope that’s about 100 times more powerful than Hubble.”
In two crucial ways, Webb improves Hubble. The 1st in terms of size. According to scientists Hubble was about the size of a school bus and this new telescope is more like a tennis court. It will be by far the giant telescope NASA ever attempt to send to space. But is not only the total size of the telescope that matters. When it comes to reflecting telescopes, the critical component is the size of its curved mirror. The telescope mirror is like a light bucket. The more light is collected in the bucket, the fainter and farther away things can be seen in the universe. The telescope gold-hued mirrors combine for a diameter of 21.3 feet. It has six times the light-collecting area.
In 1995, scientists set the Hubble to investigate a tiny patch of sky and capture as much light as it could from that one spot. The image it captured was astounding. In this teensy patch of sky, thousands of galaxies were uncovered. And this helped the scientists to find out how many galaxies exist in the universe. This new telescope will do is take that field and go even further. In the background of the Hubble Deep Field, specks of light will brighten and become more detailed. Scientists will be able to see the spiral arms, structures and will get more specs of light further in the past.
According to scientists, the new telescope can take them to 250 million years after the Big Bang. As the National Science Foundation says before the 1st starlight, the universe was shrouded by a dense obscuring fog of primordial gas. No light reached the scientist’s telescope from this time, and it is called Cosmic Dark Age. The astronomers are hoping that this new telescope will help them understand the end of the dark ages and find out what caused this fog to lift. Starlight from the earliest galaxies did this scientists believe this.
The other advantage of the telescope is the type of light it collects. In a lot of different varieties, the light comes. A narrow band can be seen by the human, known as visible light. But lots and lots of light are there in the universe outside this range. This includes higher-frequency, higher-energy forms: ultraviolet, gamma rays, and lower-energy light with longer wavelengths: infrared, microwaves, radio.
Ultraviolet, visible light, and a little bit of infrared are collected by Hubble. The Webb is mainly an infrared telescope. It will see light in a longer wavelength than what can be seen through the eyes. The space is constantly expanding; the farthest things away are moving more further away. The light is stretched by the expansion of space as it travels through space from the distant galaxies.
The light from the furthest star starts up from the visible spectrum, but it gets stretched on its journey. It grows redder and redder. So when Hubble distance galaxies are seen, they are like tiny red nuggets. Eventually, these very distant, old galaxies grow so red that they drop into the infrared spectrum. This new telescope can see this ancient light that has become invisible to the human eye.
Usage of James Webb Space Telescope –
Astronomers want to use this telescope to study an Earth-like planet in another solar system. They want to observe at infrared wavelengths because that’s where the light from the Earth is being emitted. Exoplanet scientists are going to use this to analyze the atmospheres of the exoplanet. It can determine some of the chemicals in their atmosphere, can detect water, carbon dioxide, methane. It will also help to find out what created methane and carbon dioxide.
The reason for the delay in launching Web –
The telescope is so giant and complex that it took time to launch. There are no rockets such big enough to launch it. To fit inside the rocket, the telescope has to be folded and deploy itself in space. The entire process of building a telescope that can be deployable in space has lots of engineering challenges.
The new telescope will be almost a million miles away, four times the distance from the Earth to the moon. This means that if the telescope breaks after it is launched, humans cannot repair it. That is scary, according to the scientists. It will be kept far because it is an infrared telescope; it needs to be kept cold. Earth is warm and glows in infrared. If the telescope were warm, it would just shine and see itself.