NASA GIF shows the extraordinary power of the James Webb Space Telescope compared to Hubble

We can now see the invisible (before).

NASA tweeted a GIF comparing the new James Webb Space Telescope view of the Carina Nebula — a turbulent region of dust and gas where new stars are born about 7,500 light-years from Earth — with an image taken by the legendary, over 30 years old- old Hubble Space Telescope. The comparison underscores just how powerful the Webb Observatory can peer through once impenetrable cosmic mists.

“When you’re able to look through the dust, that’s when you can reveal even more stars,” the space agency tweeted Monday.


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As the GIF shows, Webb’s recent image of the Carina Nebula reveals a plethora of new stars and richer detail of the region’s thick, swirling clouds.

Webb owes much of his unprecedented ability to visualize to How? ‘Or’ What he scans the cosmos. Unlike Hubble, which largely sees light visible to us, Webb is primarily an infrared telescope, which means it sees light in the infrared spectrum (on Earth, we can feel infrared light as heat ). This allows the instrument to see much more of the universe. Infrared has longer wavelengths than visible light, so light waves glide more efficiently through cosmic clouds; light does not collide with these dense particles as often and is not scattered by them. Ultimately, Webb’s infrared vision can penetrate places that Hubble cannot.

“It lifts the veil,” Jean Creighton, astronomer and director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, told Mashable last year.

The Webb Telescope just started its science mission earlier this month. Astronomers also expect the observatory to unveil some of the first galaxies ever created (relatively soon after the Big Bang) and reveal unprecedented insights into the extraterrestrial atmospheres of distant planets beyond our solar system ( exoplanets).

You can see the first images of the Webb Telescope in this Mashable story.

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