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NASA’s Webb Telescope Produces Infrared Image of Distant Universe

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has generated an infrared image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, also known as Webb’s First Deep Field.

The agency said Tuesday the deep field captured by the telescope’s Near Infrared Camera features the galaxy cluster as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago and represents a composite produced from images at various wavelengths totaling 12.5 hours.

Lockheed Martin and the University of Arizona developed the telescope’s NIRCam. President Biden revealed the image during an event at the White House Monday. The space agency will unveil the full suite of first full-color images, dubbed spectra, on Tuesday.

The Webb telescope built by an industry team led by Northrop Grumman took off in December aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the European Space Agency’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The space science observatory is NASA’s joint effort with ESA and the Canadian Space Agency and is designed to explore the solar system and exoplanets and detect light from the first galaxies.

Northrop said Webb has completed key mirror alignments, checked off 17 scientific instrument nodes and executed the cooling of its four scientific instruments since its arrival at Lagrange Point 2 in January.