NASA’s new space telescope has gazed into the distant universe and shown perfect vision. It was a spiky image of a faraway star photobombed by thousands of ancient galaxies.
The image released Wednesday from the James Webb Space Telescope is a test shot. It was not an official science observation. Scientists wanted to see how its 18 hexagonal mirrors worked together for a single coordinated image taken 1 million miles away from Earth. They said it worked better than expected.
NASA looked at a much closer star with 18 separate images from its mirror segments, last month.
Scientists said they were giddy as they watched the latest test photos arrive. NASA’s test image was aimed at a star 100 times fainter than the human eye can see which is 2,000 light-years away. A light-year is nearly 6 trillion miles.
The shape of Webb’s mirrors and its filters made the shimmering star look redder and spikier. But the background really stole the show.
Those galaxies are several billions of years old. Scientists hope Webb will see so far away and back in time that it will only be a couple hundred million years after the Big Bang. The first science images won’t come until late June. The $10 billion Webb is the successor to the nearly 32-year-old Hubble Space Telescope.