From our cosmic backyard in the solar system to faraway galaxies near the beginning of time, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has done what it said it would in its first year of science operations to show us the universe as we’ve never seen it before. NASA shared a picture of small Sun-like stars forming an area in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex taken by Webb to mark the end of a successful first year.

Sun-like stars
The first-anniversary image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope displays star birth like it’s never been seen before, full of detailed, impressionistic texture. The subject is the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex, the closest star-forming region to Earth. It is a relatively small, quiet stellar nursery, but you’d never know it from Webb’s chaotic close-up. Jets bursting from young stars crisscross the image, impacting the surrounding interstellar gas and lighting up molecular hydrogen, shown in red. Some stars display the telltale shadow of a circumstellar disk, the makings of future planetary systems. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Klaus Pontoppidan (STScI)

What were the perspectives on Webb after the Sun-like stars’ discovery?

Scientists had a realization of how Webb has altered the way humans perceive the solar system. Bill Nelson, who is in charge of NASA, said;

“In just one year, the James Webb Space Telescope has changed how people see the universe. For the first time, they can look into dust clouds and see light from faraway parts of the universe. Every new image, such as Sun-like stars, is a discovery that lets scientists worldwide ask and answer questions they could never have thought of before.” 

First of all, let’s have a look at Webb before discussing Sun-like stars. Webb is an investment in American innovation and a science achievement made possible by NASA’s foreign partners who share a can-do attitude and want to push the limits of what is possible. Thousands of engineers, scientists, and leaders have dedicated their lives to this goal, and their work will continue to help us learn more about the world and where we fit in it.

Webb is one of the most appreciated tools for space scientists

On the first anniversary of its launch, Nicola Fox, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said,

“The James Webb Space Telescope has already lived up to its promise to reveal the universe. It has given us a breathtaking treasure trove of images and science that will last for decades.” 

“Webb is an engineering marvel built by the best scientists and engineers in the world. It has given us a deeper understanding of galaxies, stars, and the atmospheres of planets outside of our solar system, setting the stage for NASA to lead the world into a new era of scientific discovery and the search for habitable worlds.”

Klaus Pontoppidan was the Webb project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, from before the telescope’s launch until the end of its first year of operation. once said;

“Webb’s picture of Rho Ophiuchi gives us a clearer look at a very short time in the life of a star. Our own Sun went through something similar a long time ago. Now we have the technology to see the beginning of another star’s story,” 

Sun-like stars
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has produced the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail. Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

How was the image of Sun-like stars the Webb captures?

Webb’s picture of Sun-like stars shows an area with about 50 young stars, all about the same size as the Sun or smaller. Where there is a lot of dust, where protostars are still forming, it is darkest and densest. Huge bipolar jets of molecular hydrogen, shown in red, dominate the image. They stretch across the top third of the picture horizontally and vertically on the right.

When a star first breaks through its birth covering of cosmic dust, it sends a pair of opposite jets into space, just like a baby does when she stretches her arms out for the first time. In the lower part of the picture, the star S1 has made a bright cave out of dust. Among all other Sun-like stars, it’s the only star in the notion much bigger than the Sun.

The new Webb picture today shows the Sun-like star-forming area closest to us. It is only 390 light-years away, so we can closely see it because no stars are in the way. Some of the stars in the picture have shadows that point to protoplanetary disks, which are possible planetary systems in the making. In this picture from the Webb telescope, the galaxies look like bright, shining spots; some are blurry because of gravitational lensing. The shape of Webb’s mirrors makes the stars in the center look hopeful with six-pointed diffraction spikes.

The popularity of Webb captured images of Sun-like stars

Webb has kept its promise to show us more of the universe than ever before. Its first deep field picture was shown live at the White House by President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Nelson. But Webb showed us much more about the early universe than faraway galaxies; Sun-like stars by Webb are an example.

Eric Smith, associate director for research in the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters and Webb program scientist, said;

“Now that we have a year’s worth of data from targets all over the sky, it’s clear how many kinds of science Webb can look into. Webb’s first year of science has taught us new things about our universe and shown that the telescope can do more than we thought it could. This means that future discoveries like Sun-like stars will be even more amazing.”

The science community worldwide has spent the last year looking over Webb’s first public data and figuring out how to use it.

How can Webb be useful for space study?

Scientists are most excited about Webb’s precise spectra, the specific information that can be taken from light by the telescope’s spectroscopic equipment. Webb’s scopes have proven the distances of some of the farthest galaxies ever seen and found the oldest and most distant supermassive black holes. It has discovered more about the atmospheres of planets (or the lack of atmospheres) than ever before.

They have also cut down what kinds of atmospheres may exist on rocky exoplanets for the first time. And they have also found the chemical makeup of Sun like stars nurseries and protoplanetary disks by finding water, biological molecules with carbon in them, and other things. Webb’s observations have led to hundreds of science studies that answer questions that have been around for a long time and raise new questions for Webb to answer.

What is Webbs’s significance regarding life on the planet Earth?

Webb’s views of our solar system, including Sun-like stars, the part of space we know best, also show its broad science. Webb shows faint rings of gas giants with moons out of the darkness. In the background, Webb shows galaxies that are very far away. By comparing the water and other chemicals in our solar system to those in the disks of other, much younger planetary systems, Webb is helping to figure out how Earth became the perfect place for life as we know it.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Webb Senior Project Scientist Jane Rigby said,

“After a year of science, we know exactly how powerful this telescope is, and we’ve delivered spectacular data and discoveries.” 

“For year two, we’ve chosen a set of bold observations that build on everything we’ve learned so far. Webb’s science mission is just getting started. There is so much more to come.”

A massive simulated survey has been developed by scientists, which provides insight into what can be anticipated from the future observations of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Even though this virtual version is only a bit of the actual survey that will take place, it comprises an enormous number of 33 million galaxies and 200,000 foreground stars in our galaxy.

So to clarify the point,

How utilizing the simulation can help the scientists?

By utilizing the simulation, scientists can strategize the most effective observing techniques, experiment with various methods to extract useful information from the vast amount of data gathered by the mission, and investigate the potential benefits of conducting simultaneous observations with other telescopes.

An assistant professor of physics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina “Michael Troxel” says: “The volume of data Roman will return is unprecedented for a space telescope”. Moreover, he said: “Our simulation is a testing ground we can use to make sure we will get the most out of the mission’s observations.”

Here is to know;

What role do the Rubin and Roman simulations employ?

The researchers used a mock universe, initially created to aid scientific planning for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory located in Chile, which will commence entire operations in 2024. The Rubin and Roman simulations employ the same source. So, astronomers can make a comparison between them to determine what they can gain by combining the telescopes’ observations. Once they are both actively surveying the cosmos. Troxel has led the paper detailing the findings. And scientists have approved it for publication in The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Simulated Survey of Grace Telescope Insights from NASA
Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and M. Troxel

Term to know,

What is Cosmic Construction?

The High Latitude Wide Area Survey of the Roman Space Telescope will include imaging and spectroscopy, with the former being the primary subject of the latest simulation. Spectroscopy gauges the intensity of light emitted by celestial objects at varying wavelengths. In contrast, Roman’s imaging will expose the exact locations and forms of countless faint galaxies utilized for charting dark matter. Although invisible, astronomers can deduce its existence by observing its influence on ordinary matter. Scientists will employ both techniques over an immense stretch of the universe.

The presence of mass bends the structure of space-time, with larger masses producing a more significant impact.  Scientists called this phenomenon as gravitational lensing. Whereby light emanating from a remote source is distorted when it passes through intervening objects. When the things causing the lensing are massive or clusters of galaxies, it can alter or appear as background sources as multiple images.

Simulated Survey of Grace Telescope
Credits: Caltech-IPAC/R. Hurt

Let’s come to the point,

What is weak lensing?

Objects with less mass can generate more subtle effects, known as weak lensing. The Roman Space Telescope will be capable of using weak lensing to detect how dark matter clusters affect the appearance of remote galaxies. By observing these lensing effects, researchers can expand our understanding of dark matter by filling in the gaps in our knowledge.

A physics professor at Ohio State University in Columbus and a co-author of the paper is “Chris Hirata”. He says: “Theories of cosmic structure formation make predictions for how the seed fluctuations in the early universe grow into the distribution of matter that can be seen through gravitational lensing”. Moreover, he says: “But the predictions are statistical in nature. So we test them by observing vast regions of the cosmos. Scientists will optimize Roman, with its wide field of view,  to efficiently survey the sky. It will complement observatories such as the James Webb Space Telescope that are designed for deeper investigation of individual objects.”

Ground and Space

The simulated survey of the Roman Space Telescope encompasses an expanse of 20 square degrees in the sky, which is roughly equivalent to the size of 95 full moons. When the scientists conduct the actual survey, it will be a hundred times larger, revealing over a billion galaxies. Meanwhile, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory will survey an even broader section, spanning 18,000 square degrees, almost half of the entire sky. However, it will possess lower resolution as it must penetrate Earth’s turbulent atmosphere.

Pairing the Roman and Rubin simulations presents an opportunity for researchers to attempt the detection of identical objects in both sets of images, a previously unattainable feat. This is significant because ground-based observations frequently lack the resolution to distinguish multiple closely situated sources as distinct entities. At times, they may merge, adversely affecting weak lensing measurements. Scientists can now determine the difficulties and advantages of “deblending” such objects by comparing Rubin’s images with Roman images.


Here arises the question,

How will Roman’s extensive perspective of the cosmos enable astronomers?

Roman’s extensive perspective of the cosmos will enable astronomers to achieve much more than the survey’s original objectives. Such as studying the evolution and structure of the universe, charting dark matter, and differentiating between leading theories that seek to explain the accelerating expansion of the universe. With the new synthetic Roman data at their disposal, researchers can preview additional scientific breakthroughs. It will stem from acquiring a highly detailed view of such a vast region of the universe.

The senior project scientist for the Roman mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt  Maryland is  “Julie McEnery”. She says: “With Roman’s gigantic field of view, we anticipate many different scientific opportunities. But we will also have to learn to expect the unexpected,”. Moreover, she says: “The mission will help answer critical questions in cosmology while potentially revealing brand new mysteries for us to solve.”


Published by: Sky Headlines