We are at the dawn of a new era in astronomy.
At the sight of the first images transmitted by James Webb on July 12, 2022, the European Space Agency does not hide its enthusiasm: astronomy is at a historic turning point.
Launched from the Kourou base in French Guiana on Christmas Day 2021, the infrared space telescope developed by NASA never ceases to amaze us and has so far succeeded in its mission perfectly: exploring the universe, from the Solar System to the most distant galaxies.
Hubble's little brother (still in operation and launched in 1990) is definitely doing things big and providing us with exceptional photographs.
has selected twelve of them, the most significant of these eight months.
The "Pillars of Creation"
Pillars of Creation
" had already been made famous in 1995 by the Hubble telescope.
Unveiled in October 2022, the new image taken by the JWST makes it possible to see, through these columns of gas and dust in which stars are born, part of the Eagle Nebula.
The “Pillars of Creation” standing out from a kaleidoscope of colors, in the Eagle Nebula, October 19, 2022. Handout / NASA / ESA / CSA / AFP
The “Hourglass of Dust”
In November 2022, the space observatory reveals a fascinating image: the "
Hourglass of dust
", a star in formation in the constellation of Taurus.
Called L1527, this protostar ejects two large clouds of dust (in orange and blue).
The “Hourglass of dust” around the protostar L1527, in the constellation of Taurus, on November 16, 2022. HANDOUT / ESA, NASA, CSA, STSCI / AFP
The “Ghost Galaxy”
In August 2022, James Webb unveils the "
" in all its complexity.
Located about 32 million light-years from Earth, this galaxy is made up of more than one hundred billion stars.
The "Ghost galaxy", in the constellation of Pisces, August 30, 2022. Handout / NASA / ESA / AFP
The JWST was designed to flush out the most distant and therefore oldest galaxies in the universe.
In July 2022, the telescope sends us a first deep field image.
Certainly, the image is not dazzling.
However, each point on this image corresponds to a galaxy, made up of billions of stars.
Deep field of thousands of galaxies, July 12, 2022. NASA/STSCI/CEERS/TACC/S.
Jupiter and Neptune
In August and September 2022, the JWST teams unveil absolutely new photos of Neptune and Jupiter.
The space telescope makes it possible to visualize the aurora borealis and australia of the Jovian planet linked to the volcanic activity of one of its natural satellites, the moon Io.
The aurora borealis and australis of Jupiter, the fifth planet in the Solar System, on August 22, 2022. Handout / NASA / AFP
Another image reveals the very thin rings of Jupiter, as well as two of its satellites.
We can observe the moon Amalthea (very bright point on the far left) and the moon Adrastea (bright point on the left).
The very thin rings of Jupiter, the fifth planet in the Solar System, and two of its satellites (Amalthea and Adrastea), August 22, 2022. Handout / NASA / AFP
Neptune's rings have also been photographed by the space telescope.
If the result is perhaps less beautiful, connoisseurs will say that it is even more spectacular!
We can observe the literally illuminated rings of the eighth planet of the Solar System, located 4.5 billion kilometers away.
The rings of Neptune, eighth planet in the Solar System, September 21, 2022. Space Telescope Science Institut / ESA/WEBB / AFP
An avalanche of nebulae
The space observatory also photographed a series of nebulae, the clouds of gas and dust where stars form.
Under the effect of gravity, matter collapses until it becomes so compact that the atoms begin to fuse together, releasing large amounts of heat and radiation: a star has just ignited.
We can only observe in detail the nebulae located in our galaxy or in our closest neighbours.
James Webb revealed new details about the Tarantula Nebula in September 2022.
It is the largest known nebula, located 161,000 light-years from Earth, in the Large Magellanic Cloud (dwarf galaxy very close to the Milky Way).
The Tarantula Nebula, in the Large Magellanic Cloud, September 6, 2022. Space Telescope Science Institute / NASA / AFP
The Carina Nebula is perhaps one of the most iconic images captured by Hubble.
His little brother James Webb delivered an even more precise and detailed photograph.
The Carina Nebula, in the constellation Carina, on July 12, 2022. Handout / NASA / AFP
In September 2022, French researchers unveil an enlarged view of the central region of the Orion Nebula, the richest and closest star nursery in the Solar System, visible to the naked eye with binoculars.
The Orion Nebula, in the constellation of Orion, September 12, 2022. Handout / NASA/ESA/CSA / AFP
The Central Ring Nebula
The Central Ring (planetary) Nebula, located 2500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sails, is among the first five photographs transmitted by James Webb in July 2022. Contrary to what their name suggests, the planetary nebulae are not star nurseries, and they have nothing to do with planets!
It's actually the remains of a star that exploded.
A stellar corpse in short.
The Southern Ring Nebula, in the constellation Veils, on July 12, 2022. Handout / NASA / AFP
Among the first shots unveiled by James Webb, a magnificent shot of Stephan's Quintet.
This set of galaxies was first observed by French astronomer Édouard Stephan in 1878.
Stephan's Quintet, in the constellation Pegasus, July 12, 2022. Handout / NASA / AFP