The Webb telescope image is not just glorious. It shows the twisted space.

The space is very psychedelic.

There are objects in the universe that are so massive – usually clusters of galaxies – that they move through space, like a bowling ball sitting on a mattress. This creates a curved cosmic lens. “Light follows that curve instead of traveling in a straight line, distorting and illuminating what’s behind the object,” NASA explained.

A new image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope, the powerful observatory orbiting 1 million miles from Earth, shows a galaxy that has been warped by this effect – technically called “gravitational lensing” and long predicted by Albert Einstein.


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The Webb image below shows a sea of ​​galaxies, some rotating like our Milky Way. Near the middle right is the twisted and expanding galaxy MRG-M0138, located about 10 billion light-years away. It’s an incredibly old, distant galaxy, but the natural cosmic lens magnifies the light, making it clear.

Near the center-right of this image is the approximate and twisted light from the distant galaxy MRG-M0138.
Credit: NASA / ESA / CSA / STScI / Justin Pierel (STScI) / Andrew Newman (Carnegie Institution for Science)

And in this magnified light, there is a surprise.

A close-up of the stretching galaxy reveals the bright light from an exploding star, a violent event called a supernova. The researchers call it a “Supernova Encore,” and the giant gravitational lens makes it visible several times in this image, which you can see indicated by the circles below.

The same supernova can be seen multiple times in this image of the spiral galaxy MRG-M0138.

The same supernova can be seen multiple times in this image of the spiral galaxy MRG-M0138.
Credit: NASA / ESA / CSA / STScI / Justin Pierel (STScI) / Andrew Newman (Carnegie Institution for Science)

Furthermore, astronomers expect the lens to reveal itself something else copy of this same supernova in the 2030s. This will allow astronomers a unique, valuable opportunity to measure how fast the universe is expanding.

“When a supernova explodes behind a gravitational lens, its light reaches Earth through several different paths. We can compare these paths to many trains leaving a station at the same time, all traveling at the same speed and to the same location. the route is different, and due to differences in journey length and terrain, the trains do not arrive at their destination at the same time,” Justin Pierel, a NASA Einstein Fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute and Andrew Newman, an astronomer. at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, explained in a statement by NASA.

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“By measuring the differences in the times when supernova images are visible, we can measure the history of the expansion rate of the universe, known as the Hubble constant, which is a major challenge in cosmology today,” added the researchers.

Powerful abilities of the Webb telescope

Engineers working on the giant gold-coated mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Engineers working on the giant gold-coated mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope.
Credit: NASA / Desiree Stover

The Webb telescope – a scientific collaboration between NASA, the ESA, and the Canadian Space Agency – is designed to peer into the deepest universe and reveal new insights about the early universe. But it also looks at the fascinating planets in our galaxy, along with the planets and moons of our solar system.

Here’s how Webb achieved such unprecedented feats, and probably for decades:

– Large mirror: Webb’s mirror, which captures the light, is more than 21 feet across. More than two and a half times larger than the mirror of the Hubble Space Telescope. Capturing more light allows Webb to see more distant, ancient objects. As described above, the telescope is looking at stars and galaxies that formed more than 13 billion years ago, just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

“We can see the very first stars and galaxies forming,” Jean Creighton, an astronomer and director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, told Mashable in 2021.

– Infrared vision: Unlike Hubble, which mostly looks at the light we can see, Webb is primarily an infrared telescope, meaning it looks at light in the infrared spectrum. This allows us to see more parts of the universe. Infrared has a longer wavelength than visible light, so light waves penetrate cosmic clouds more efficiently; light does not always collide with and scatter these charged particles. Finally, Webb’s infrared vision will penetrate places Hubble can’t.

“It lifts the veil,” Creighton said.

– Observing distant exoplanets: The Webb telescope carries special equipment called spectrographs that will change our understanding of these distant worlds. The instruments can understand what molecules (such as water, carbon dioxide, and methane) are in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets — gas giants or smaller rocky worlds. Webb will look for exoplanets in the Milky Way galaxy. Who knows what we will find?

“Maybe we’ll learn things we didn’t think about,” Mercedes López-Morales, an exoplanet researcher and astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics-Harvard & Smithsonian, told Mashable in 2021.

Already, astronomers have successfully detected interesting chemical reactions on a planet 700 light-years away, and as described above, the observatory began to observe one of the most anticipated places in the universe: the rocky, Earth-like planets of the TRAPPIST solar. system.

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