Images show that NASA’s Webb Space Telescope is finding things Hubble couldn’t

Images show that NASA’s Webb Space Telescope is finding things Hubble couldn’t

  • The James Webb Space Telescope can capture a more complete view of galaxies, stars and planets.
  • The powerful telescope is 100 times more powerful than its predecessor Hubble and uses infrared light.
  • JWST started scientific operations in July. Scientists emphasize that it is just beginning to reveal the universe.

of NASA James Webb Space Telescope has provided mind-blowing views of space since it began science operations in the summer.

Before Webb, astronomers had another space observatory: Hubble Space Telescope. Both are space telescopes, but they differ in many ways. Hubble sees ultraviolet light, visible light and a small part of the infrared, while Webb looks at the universe in the infrared spectrum.

Webb is 100 times more powerful than Hubble, allowing astronomers to peer even further into space. As the first few months of observations have proven, Webb is capable of taking some of the most stunning pictures of the universe.

Webb provides sharp views of Jupiter’s auroras and storms that Hubble can’t see

Hubble image of Jupiter (left) JWST image of Jupiter (right)

Hubble image of Jupiter (left) JWST image of Jupiter (right)

Hubble, NASA, ESA, Jupiter ERS team; image processing by Judy Schmidt

In August, Webb captured images of Jupiter — the largest planet in our solar system. Compared to the Hubble images of the gas giant, top left, Webb offers a sharper, clearer image and shows new details about Jupiter’s auroras and storm systems.

In Webb’s image of Jupiter, top right, the planet Big red spot — a huge storm that has been raging for centuries — is so bright with reflected sunlight that it appears white.

Webb’s infrared image also shows Jupiter’s auroras illuminating both poles of the planet. Auroras are colorful light displays that are not unique to Earth. Jupiter has the most powerful auroras in the Solar System, according to NASA.

On both Earth and Jupiter, auroras occur when charged particles from the sun interact with the magnetic field — known as the magnetosphere — that surrounds the planet. Jupiter’s magnetic field is approx 20,000 times stronger than on Earth.

Webb revealed filament-like filaments in the Orion Nebula hidden to Hubble

Hubble image of the Orion Nebula at left.  JWST image of the Orion Nebula, right.

Hubble image of the Orion Nebula (left) JWST image of the Orion Nebula (right)

NASA, ESA, Massimo Roberto (STScI, ESA), Orion Treasury Space Telescope Hubble Project Team NASA, ESA, CSA, Data Reduction and Analysis: PDRs4All ERS Team; graphic processing S. Fuenmajor

NASA released photos of the Orion Nebula — a massive star-forming region 1,350 light-years from Earth — that Webb imaged in September. The nebula is the closest star nursery to us.

Dense clouds of cosmic dust in the nebula obscure star-forming structures from instruments that rely on visible light, as in the Hubble image of the nebula, upper left. from collecting infrared lightWebb is able to peer through these layers of dust, giving astronomers unprecedented views of the nebula’s various components.

Astronomers believe that nebulae are clouds dominated by huge, tangled, thread-like structures called filaments that feed material such as gas to form and power stars. Webb’s images reveal these gas filaments in great detail.

Webb revealed hundreds of stars that Hubble could not see in the epic Pillars of Creation

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope made the Pillars of Creation famous with its first image in 1995, but revisited the scene in 2014 to reveal a sharper, wider view in visible light, shown above left.  A new near-infrared view from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, right, helps us peer through more of the dust in this star-forming region.  The thick, dusty brown pillars are no longer so opaque, and many more red stars that are still forming come into view.

The Pillars of Creation imaged by Hubble in 2014 (left) and JWST in 2022 (right).

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI; Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Anton M. Koekemoer (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI).

In October, NASA launched a snapshot taken by Webb of the Pillars of Creation — towering columns of gas and dust where stars are born. The epic star nursery is in the vast Eagle Nebula, a cloud of dust and gas 6,500 light-years away.

Hubble also imaged the famous nursery in 1995, upper left. When comparing the two images side-by-side, Webb’s camera cuts through dense columns of cosmic dust, revealing hundreds of stars that Hubble can’t see.

Webb has spied countless galaxies that Hubble missed

A side-by-side collage of the same area imaged by the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes.

A side-by-side collage of the same area imaged by the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes.


One of the first images NASA shared from Webb was a “deep field” image, a long-exposure view of an area of ​​the sky that allows the telescope to pick up the light of extremely faint, distant objects. The image took less than a day to capture, according to NASA.

When the image was revealed in July, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that if you hold a grain of sand at arm’s length, it will represent the particle of the universe you see in this image.

“The deep-field image fills me with wonder and hope,” Lisa Kalteneger, professor of astronomy at Cornell University and director of the Carl Sagan Institute, previously told Insider.

Hubble’s side-by-side deep field next to Webb’s reveals how much sharper and stronger the new space observatory is.

Webb revealed 2 stars in this nebula where Hubble only saw one

side-by-side images of a bubble nebula with arrows pointing to the stars in the center

Hubble’s image of the Southern Ring Nebula (left) has only one light in the center, while JWST (right) clearly shows two stars.

The Hubble Legacy Team (STScI/AURA/NASA); NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

It is Southern Ring Nebula, where a dying star slowly sheds layers of its atmosphere in successive waves, creating ever-expanding bubbles of colored gas. Scientists knew there were two stars at the center of the nebula, but they couldn’t see them in the Hubble images.

Webb’s new image reveals the dying star, glowing red because it is surrounded by dust, right next to its white companion star.

An iconic cluster of 5 galaxies is much brighter and clearer in Webb’s eyes

the stephan quintet cluster of five galaxies imaged by Hubble on the left and jwst on the right

The Stefan Quintet galaxy cluster imaged by Hubble (left) and JWST (right).


Four of the galaxies in this image of Stefan’s Quintet are about 300,000 light-years away, caught in a cosmic dance as the gravity of each galaxy affects the others.

Webb’s image also reveals new galaxies far in the background that were not visible to Hubble.

Where Hubble saw a faint spot, Webb resolved 2 different mystery objects

two pale dots one yellow one orange in space

One of the images of MACS0647-JD taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.

SCIENCE: NASA, ESA, CSA, Dan Coe (STScI), Rebecca Larson (UT), Yu-Yang Hsiao (JHU) IMAGE PROCESSING: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Dan Coe, a researcher at the Space Telescope Science Institute, first discovered this deep space object about 10 years ago using Hubble.

“With Hubble, it was just this faint, red dot. We could tell it was really small, just a small galaxy for the first 400 million years of the universe. Now we watch with Web and we can resolve TWO objectsCoe said in October NASA announcement.

gif compares Hubble and jwst images of the same galaxy cluster, highlighting new galaxies behind it

SCIENCE: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI and Tiger Hsiao (Johns Hopkins University) IMAGE PROCESSING: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Both Hubble and Webb studied the early universe gravitational lensing. This happens when a cluster of distant galaxies is so massive that it distorts space-time, bending the light from galaxies far in the distance behind it. This creates mirror images of these galaxies reflected back to us.

So the footprint of the mysterious objects appears in three places in the images above. The breaks in these three images of the system on the right show how much clearer the Webb images are. They clearly show two different objects.

“We are actively debating whether these are two galaxies or two groups of stars in one galaxy,” Coe said in the release. “We don’t know, but those are the questions the Web is designed to help us answer.”

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