June 8, 2023


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Hubble captures record-breaking ‘peek’ of James Webb Space Telescope discoveries

What is happening

The Hubble Space Telescope has just taken the largest near-infrared image of the sky.

why does it matter

This gigantic survey could pave the way for next-generation discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope and, eventually, help humans understand some of the most elusive regions of our universe.

Amidst the excitement of discussing a shiny new game of astronomy, James Webb Space Telescopewe can not forget Hubble.

Since its launch in late December last year, JWST has been making waves, carrying the hopes and dreams of wide-eyed scientists, along with gold-plated mirrors and an array of high-tech infrared cameras that can penetrate star dust and help us solve it. Long-standing black hole puzzles. But the tried-and-true Hubble is still toiling away, and in fact, it has just hit a pretty big feat.

The Hubble Space Telescope, which ventured out into the cosmos in 1990, captured its largest-ever near-infrared image of space, thus trampling through the waters JWST is preparing to explore.

This remarkable image could shed light on some of the rarest objects in the universe, such as monstrous galaxies that are caused by massive galaxy mergers or extremely violent black holes lurking in the depths of interstellar space.

“It was difficult to study these very rare events using the existing images, which is what motivated the design of this large survey,” Lamia Mola He said in a statement. Mowla is an astrophysicist at the University of Toronto and lead author of the survey study, of which An initial version is available at arXiv. It will soon be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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Part of a new high-resolution survey dubbed 3D-Dash, which stands for “drift and shift,” Hubble’s latest data set spans nearly an area of ​​the sky. six times The size of the Moon as seen from Earth. You can actually Explore it for yourself here. What you’re looking at is a mosaic of multiple snapshots taken by Hubble that were later put together.

Try zooming out and dragging the screen around – it’s really amazing how much land (sky?) this image covers.

Photo mosaic showing a variety of galaxies

Galaxies from the past 10 billion years have been seen in 3D-Dash.

Lamia Mola

“Since its launch more than 30 years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope has led a renaissance in studying how galaxies have changed in the last 10 billion years of the universe,” Mola said. “3D-DASH expands Hubble’s legacy in large-scale imaging, so we can begin to unravel mysteries of galaxies beyond our own.”

What is an infrared image?

When you look up at the sky, even if you are located in the darkest jungle valley on earth, you do not see all the stars. This is not because some stars are not in your field of vision.

They are there – but they are not visible.

The human eye can only perceive the wavelengths of light within a certain region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Beyond this area is infrared light. And really distant galaxies and stars emit exactly this type of light – so it’s basically hidden to our eyes, no matter what we’re trying to do.

But Hubble and JWST also have a way of getting around our human limitations. The scientists combined these two tools with what are essentially infrared light detectors.

Diagram of the electromagnetic spectrum, showing the areas that Hubble and the Webb can see.

This graph shows the electromagnetic energy spectrum, and highlights parts detected by NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer, and Webb space telescopes.

NASA J. Olmsted [STScI]

As can be seen from the graph, Infrared powers of JWST Much (much) more powerful—which is why it holds the ability to show a lot of things our eyes can’t see—but Hubble has some of these special light-processing capabilities.

In addition, Hubble has an advantage in the JWST here.

According to the researchers behind the new study, JWST is designed to take extremely sensitive, close-up images of deep space so that we get very clear images of small interstellar regions. This is incredibly exciting because we will most likely get images of distant stars, galaxies and other cosmic phenomena with a level of clarity similar to what we get for images of objects carried in space closer to Earth.

But Hubble can take a lot Vast field Like the new pictures we look at. Ultimately, these expanded data sets could inform future JWST studies, helping next-generation scale to set the right direction for detecting observations.

As Evelina Momsheva, a data scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and lead researcher on the study, stated, “It gives us a peek into future scientific discoveries and allows us to develop new techniques for analyzing these large data sets.”