UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – James Webb Space Telescope
James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a space telescope developed in collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency. The James Webb Space Telescope would offer unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from long-wavelength (orange-red) visible light, through near-infrared to the mid-infrared (0.6 to 27 micrometers). It is a successor instrument to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. JWST will orbit the sun, a million miles away from Earth at the second Lagrange point (L2).
- It will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology
- One of major goals of JWST is observing some of the most distant events and objects in the universe, such as the formation of the first galaxies.
- Other goals include understanding the formation of stars and planets, and direct imaging of exoplanets and novas.
- Webb’s unprecedented infrared sensitivity will help astronomers to compare the faintest, earliest galaxies to today’s grand spirals and ellipticals, helping us to understand how galaxies assemble over billions of years
When the James Webb Space Telescope finally flies, it will be the largest space observatory ever launched.
Comparison to Hubble Space Telescope:
- The JWST’s primary mirror is composed of 18 hexagonal mirror segments made of gold-coated beryllium that combine to create a mirror with a diameter of 6.5 meters (21 ft 4 in) – A large increase over the Hubble’s 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror.
- JWST will observe in the long-wavelength (orange to red) visible light through the mid-infrared (0.6 to 27 μm) range. Unlike the Hubble— which observes in the near ultraviolet, visible light, and near-infrared spectra. This will allow the JWST to observe high redshift objects that are too old and too distant to be observed by the Hubble telescope and other earlier instruments.
- The observatory has seven times the light-collecting power of Hubble.
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