With a so-called Doodle, Google is celebrating the “deepest recording of the universe ever made,” as it says in a statement.
Among other things, the infrared image “Webb’s First Deep Field” will be shown. Released on July 11, 2022, the photo is the first color image by the James Webb Space Telescope and shows a galaxy cluster 4.6 billion light-years from Earth. This is the deepest look into the past so far.
Other images from the James Webb Space Telescope are also shown in the Google doodle, including the “Carina Nebula”, the galaxy group “Stephan’s Quintet” and the “Southern Ring Nebula” (also “Eight Burst Nebula”), which is a dying star circled.
James Webb was NASA’s second administrator from 1961 to 1968. During his time as head of NASA, the American is said to have worked primarily to ensure that science and research should remain a core task of the space agency. The famous Apollo missions took place under his direction, during which a human being landed on the moon for the first time.
The fact that the largest and most powerful space telescope of all time was named after James Webb was the subject of worldwide controversy. Shortly after the name was announced, well-known astronomers called for the telescope to be renamed, since Webb, as NASA boss at the time, is said to have tacitly tolerated discrimination against homosexual employees.
The main purpose of the James Webb Space Telescope is to provide science with images from the earliest times of the universe. With the help of a 25 square meter mirror, the telescope is to take pictures from the period directly after the Big Bang around 13.8 billion years ago. Releasing the first images, NASA chief Bill Nelson said, “Each image is a new discovery, and each one gives mankind a glimpse of the universe like never before.”
In addition, the researchers hope to gain new insights into how stars form and whether there are other habitable planets besides Earth.
The James Webb telescope is currently orbiting the so-called outer Lagrange point L2, which is about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
Incidentally, temperatures in space are around minus 270 degrees. Nevertheless, temperatures of up to 85 degrees can occur on the side of the telescope facing the sun, while temperatures of up to minus 233 degrees can be reached on the side facing away from the sun. With the help of a 25 square meter sun shield, the telescope and its sensitive devices are to be protected from thermal radiation.
In order for the telescope to be able to deliver detailed infrared images over the long term, the temperature of the components must be kept below minus 223 degrees. Anyone interested in the current operating temperature of the James Webb Telescope should take a look at the Where is Webb? website, where the most up-to-date data is being collected.
The James Webb telescope embarked on a long journey in December 2021 with the help of an Ariane rocket. Shortly after the engines of the so-called “ESC-A” upper stage were switched off, the telescope reached a speed of 9.90 kilometers per hour, as can be seen in this video from December 15, 2021.
According to a Wikipedia entry, the space telescope is currently circling in the so-called halo orbit around the outer Lagrange point L2 at a speed of about 202 meters per second. That corresponds to about 727 kilometers per hour.
If you look up at the stars, you automatically look into the past. This is because the light always travels a certain amount of time before it reaches the viewer’s position. If you look at the moon from earth, you see the moon as it looked a second ago. Our picture of the sun, on the other hand, is already 8 minutes in the past, according to a report by “Deutschlandfunk”.
With the help of its sophisticated measuring equipment, the James Webb Space Telescope can record light that has been traveling in space for 13 billion years. So scientists want to look into the past to the time shortly after the Big Bang.