James Webb Space Telescope promises ‘leap forward for astronomy’

L'observatoire James-Webb, en décembre 2020. La taille des hommes qui s'affairent autour permet de prendre conscience de la taille hors norme de cet observatoire. © Nasa, Chris Gunn

James Webb Space Telescope, presented as Hubble’s older brother rather than its successor, still seems to be scheduled for launch by Ariane 5 by the end of the year. This observatory will show its full potential by observing the first objects formed a hundred million years after the creation of the universe, which is the limit of Hubble’s capabilities today. JWST should allow for great progress.

Extraordinary mission. James-Webb (JWST, For James Webb Space Telescope) is the largest astronomical telescope ever launched into space. This instrument, the result of collaboration between space agencies – NASA, That and ASC – Must observe a very wide variety of targets, including the most distant visible objects ever recorded. very dim and almost invisible Hubble telescope, they are James-Webb’s prisons that must be reached as close as possible to the end of the so called period dark Age, the stage of inflation that generated the great structures of the universe and the first objects. If James-Webb would be able to see these first objects only a hundred million years after their formation, the holy grail astronomers, yet he would not see them “illuminated” when the Dark Ages came out.

A Journey in Time to the Graves of Astronomers

As Pierre Ferruit, scientific co-head of the James-Webb mission at ESA explained to us, JWST’s greatest discoveries are ” which we cannot clearly expect or imagine “. What is to be understood that this observatory represents a ” Such a leap for astronomy “, that must be searches” in all fields of astronomy “. Furthermore, if the telescope Hubble It reaches its limits when it comes to observing objects formed after a few hundred million years. big Bang, « This is exactly where JWST will show the fullest extent of its capabilities and bring vast knowledge to this critical period in the history of the universe, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. ».

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Quite simply, “Webb” will be the largest astronomical telescope ever launched into space.

James-Webb’s dimensions are difficult to understand. Ehsaas, with a height of more than 20 m, a Mirror With a 6.5-meter primary and a heat shield (sunshade) as large as a tennis court, “Webb” will be the largest astronomical telescope ever built in space. With such dimensions, its projection can only be folded to fit inside the cap of the Ariane 5 Launcher. If it clearly surpasses all those previously launched into space, then it is equivalent to some terrestrial observatories and surpasses all the earthly instruments that work ininfrared, with a profit of 10 to 100!

Iconic Images That Will Be Revisited

If Hubble’s images with the general public, some of which have become iconic like the Eagle Nebula or the darker regions, helped greatly in its popularity.astronomy, there’s no doubt that James-Webb will buck the trend. We already know that these iconic images will be revisited by the web, resulting in new information.

with the return of flightAriane 5 Scheduled for July, James-Webb will launch in late November, early December, by the end of the year.

First images June 2022. are set for

If it would require a month for him to return to his position Pointe de Lagrange L2Located 1.5 million kilometers from our planet, or about four times that of the Moon, the people in charge of the mission would need six months to put it into service. The first images are scheduled for June 2022. The mirror would be deployed throughout the journey it would take to L2.

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An Extraordinary Promontory to See the Universe

This point of Lagrange 2 was apparently not chosen at random. This is an extraordinary province for observing deep space far from the Sun and Earth, which should allow James-Webb to achieve very ambitious scientific objectives. At this distance, the telescope and its four instruments (two of which are supplied by Europe), in the shadow of a heat shield, would operate continuously at -253 °C, a temperature close to absolute zero, set at -273.15 °C.

You will understand, the main interest of L2 is that the Sun, Earth and the Moon will be constantly “behind” the Sun’s visor, leaving the telescope and its instruments in constant cold and darkness. As JWST moves around the Sun along with Earth, all locations in the sky will become observable over a period of at least 50 days. so the whole sky will be accessible astronomers during the year, with the exception of Solar system inner, that is, the sun mercure, Venus and Earth.

This space observatory should work for at least five years. It has enough “fuel” to last 10 years.

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