James Webb Space Telescope to study the origin of the universe

The James Webb Telescope was built and is operated by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. Get to know more about it.

James Webb Space Telescope to study the origin of the universe
Scientific telescope James Webb is to study the origin of the universe. Image: UNAM

Fifteen days after its launch, the James Webb Space Telescope has traveled 60 percent of its way to its final destination, located one million 500 thousand kilometers away from Earth, where its orbit, Lagrange 2, will be located. There it will begin the study of the images found millions of light-years away, which will allow us to better study the birth of the Universe.

Humanity has always dreamed of better understanding this process and studying the past. For this reason, the James Webb telescope, a space observatory that will analyze the oldest galaxies, was launched into space on December 25, 2021. It all began 13.8 billion years ago, added the scientist when energy emerged from the fluctuations of the vacuum and in a micro fraction of a second, it expanded a billion times through a process called cosmic inflation. When it finally stopped, the Universe we know today emerged and continued to expand and cool.

Built and operated by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, he explained that this telescope will study the Universe through infrared light. When it reaches its final destination it will align its mirrors, cool to a temperature close to absolute zero, and thus scrutinize the traces of the first stars and galaxies. Being in space at the mercy of the light of the Sun and the Moon, it is more difficult to observe in the distance, so the James Webb has an umbrella that will allow it to cover itself from this light and also to cool down at all times. It will orbit the Earth at the same speed, to accompany it around the Sun.

The James Webb space telescope has a mirror composed of 18 hexagonal segments that, combined, create a mirror with a diameter of 6.5 meters, much larger than the Hubble telescope, which has a diameter of 2.4 meters.

How will it study the past?

Infrared light from the different stars in the Universe takes a very long time to reach us. For example, sunlight, which is at a distance of 150,000,000 km from the Earth, takes approximately 8 minutes to reach us; Alpha Centauri, which is the closest star to us, is at a distance of four light-years, and its radiation is much more delayed. For this reason, James Webb will study the past. The Universe is dilating and this causes the blue and violet light in the cosmos to also dilate and consequently, the light that used to be red or violet becomes infrared.

In the future

While the James Webb telescope was being built, several extrasolar planets were discovered. It has been suggested that these planets absorb infrared light through their atmospheres and probably have molecules that are very important for life, such as water, methane, and CO2. The James Webb telescope will also be used to observe these extraterrestrial planets and find out if they have any life. Although this observatory is months away, astronomers are happy that all its data will be available to the community. The James Webb telescope will help us understand the history of the Universe, which emerged 13.8 billion years ago, and why not, we will also be able to discover new things.