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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope images: Following a sneak peek of a galaxy-studded image from deep in the cosmos, NASA officials are now unveiling more of their initial showcase from the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most powerful orbital observatory ever launched.

And it seems that there might be clouds in another world! The NASA Webb Telescope captured the signature of water on the giant gas planet WASP 96-b, which orbits a star 1,150 light-years away. “For the first time, we’ve detected evidence of clouds in this exoplanet’s atmosphere,” NASA tweeted.


Sharing some other images, NASA said, “Some stars go out with a bang. In these images of the Southern Ring planetary nebula, NASA Webb Telescope shows a dying star cloaked by dust and layers of light.”


NASA also shared images of a “a galaxy cluster showing huge shockwaves and tidal tails”. 


The first batch of full-colour, high-resolution pictures, which took weeks to render from raw telescope data, were selected by NASA to provide compelling early images from Webb’s major areas of inquiry and a preview of science missions ahead. The $9 billion infrared telescope, built for NASA by aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp, is expected to revolutionize astronomy by allowing scientists to peer farther than before and with greater clarity into the cosmos, to the dawn of the known universe.

The four additional photos released Tuesday included more cosmic beauty shots. With one exception, the latest images showed parts of the universe seen by other telescopes. But Webb’s sheer power, distant location off Earth and use of the infrared light spectrum showed them in new light. “Every image is a new discovery and each will give humanity a view of the humanity that we’ve never seen before,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on Tuesday, reported AP, rhapsodizing over images showing “the formation of stars, devouring black holes.”

Webb’s use of the infrared light spectrum allows the telescope to see through the cosmic dust and “see light from faraway light from the corners of the universe,” he said. “We’ve really changed the understanding of our universe,” said European Space Agency director general Josef Aschbacher.

A partnership between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, the Webb was launched on Christmas Day, 2021, and reached its destination in solar orbit nearly 1 million miles from Earth a month later. Once there, the telescope underwent a months-long process to unfurl all of its components, including a sun shield the size of a tennis court, and to align its mirrors and calibrate its instruments, reported Reuters.

With Webb now finely tuned and fully focused, astronomers will embark on a competitively selected list of science projects exploring the evolution of galaxies, the life cycles of stars, the atmospheres of distant exoplanets and the moons of our outer solar system.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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