A landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” speckled with glittering stars is the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula, captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope. (Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI)

NASA on Tuesday released the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, revealing new details about the scope of the universe captured by a precise instrument being controlled from the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

NASA gushed about the images, saying in a release that “the dawn of a new era in astronomy is here as the world gets its first look at the full capabilities of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).”

The agency released five images in all, which it said were selected by representatives from NASA, ESA, CSA, and the Space Telescope Science Institute and chosen because “they reveal the capabilities of all four of Webb’s state-of-the-art scientific instruments.”

NASA launched Webb, its largest and most powerful scientific instrument, into space on Christmas Day in 2021. The telescope moved into position in January, unfolding its array of mirrors and testing and tuning instruments.

Scientists and technicians working on the Hopkins campus have been cheering the project’s success for months, and have called it an enormous source of pride for the city.

“I got to say, it’s just shocking how efficient and how successful the mission has been so far,” Ori Fox, a scientist on one of four instruments on the telescope, told Baltimore Fishbowl earlier this year.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson joined in the revelry this week. “The Webb team’s incredible success is a reflection of what NASA does best,” he said in a statement. “We take dreams and turn them into reality for the benefit of humanity. I can’t wait to see the discoveries that we uncover – the team is just getting started!”

The gallery of all five images released by NASA can be found here.

Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground. (Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI)
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David Nitkin

David Nitkin is the Executive Editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He is an award-winning journalist, having worked as State House Bureau Chief, White House Correspondent, Politics Editor and Metropolitan Editor...