The science behind the James Webb Space Telescope What will your first photos of the Cosmos look like? | Technology

The James Webb Space Telescope is the largest of its kind and opens a new era in infrared technology for astronomy. And it is that it will reveal corners of the Cosmos through infrared images with incredible precision.

The next July 12 It will be a very important day for astronomy and for what we know of the Cosmos until today. Scientists are excited about the first color images of the James Webbbecause it is the largest and most powerful infrared space telescope in the world.

It took more than two decades to develop and a figure of 10,000 million dollars. From now on, it is hoped that the first images will serve to justify all the work, time and budget invested.

“The images are sure to fascinate both astronomers and the public,” said Klaus Pontoppidan, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in the United States.

The James Webb Space Telescope was released in December 2021 as part of a joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

The device uses infrared technology to allow scientists to see deep into space. In this way, astronomers want to see distant galaxies and stars and understand how they formed.

In addition, they hope the telescope will allow them to learn more about exoplanets, planets orbiting stars other than our own Sun, and look for signs of life.


What is infrared technology?

As for visible light (the type of light we can see with our eyes), infrared is a form of electromagnetic radiation.

electromagnetic radiation comes in different wavelengths that lie in a spectrum. These include microwaves, infrared rays, visible light, ultraviolet light, X-rays and gamma rays.

Infrared itself is a large part of the electromagnetic spectrum and is divided into near infrared, mid infrared and far infrared.

If you’ve seen movies like “Predator”, the documentary series “Planet Earth” or Performance of Thirty Seconds to Mars at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awardsyou will be familiar with infrared light and some of its uses.

All the examples above thermal cameras used, which capture infrared light. Thermal cameras are also used at airports to measure people’s body temperature, which rises when they have a fever, for example due to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Some snakes, such as pit vipers, pythons, and boas, have special “pit” organs that can also sense infrared radiation. Even the body heat of their prey.

How do James Webb’s infrared thermal cameras work?

Anything above absolute zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius / -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit), whether living or inanimate, emits infrared radiation. This includes you and the chair you are sitting in. Even if we cannot see the object with our eyes, it will emit thermal radiation.

We can detect this radiation with infrared and then convert this data into an image., using different colors to illustrate the intensity of infrared radiation. And this creates an outline with detailed outlines of the object.

It’s similar to how infrared telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope create images from space. This has advanced the resolution of infrared images obtained by space telescopes.


But Why does the James Webb Space Telescope use infrared? Astronomers need infrared to be able to see the first stars and galaxies. These allow you to see through dust clouds that would otherwise block your view.

Dust clouds are the birthplace of stars and planets, and being able to see through them will help us better understand how they form. The James Webb has a huge mirror to capture light from distant stars and planets.

the mirror is six times larger than that used in its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope. The James Webb Space Telescope should be able to see objects 10 to 100 times fainter than what Hubble could see. In addition, will take much sharper and more detailed images in the infrared than any previous telescope of its type.

A new infrared era

Infrared was discovered in 1800 by German-born British astronomer William of the main astronomers behind the discovery of Uranus.

Herschel used a prism and a thermometer to measure how different colors of light affected temperature. Thus, he noticed that the greatest temperature increase occurred in a region known as infrared.

There have been many more technological discoveries and improvements since then, including the first detection of infrared radiation from the Moon in 1856.

In 1878 came the invention of the bolometer, an infrared measuring device, which was used in updated form at the Herschel Space Observatory until 2013.

Infrared detectors continue to improve their sensitivity and accuracy. This allows scientists to detect infrared light from planets like Jupiter and Saturn.

the space telescope James Webb will now add to this rich history by looking further back in time and into never-before-seen detail. If we’re lucky, this will reveal what the universe looked like a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

Alvin Nguyen

"Amateur introvert. Pop culture trailblazer. Incurable bacon aficionado."

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