The James Webb Space Telescope's largest general observer program, COSMOS-Web, has released its first set of images captured during its first year of operation. These images reveal various galaxies, including spiral galaxies, gravitational lensing, and evidence of galaxy mergers. The program's primary objective is to map the earliest structures of the universe, creating a deep survey of up to one million galaxies.
The James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) COSMOS-Web program has released the first images from its first year of operation. These images show a variety of galaxies, including spiral galaxies, gravitational lensing, and evidence of galaxy mergers. The mosaic images were captured in early January using JWST’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).
The primary objective of COSMOS-Web is to map the earliest structures of the universe, creating a deep survey of up to one million galaxies. The program will map 0.6 square degrees of the sky with NIRCam, equivalent to three full moons, and 0.2 square degrees with MIRI over 255 hours of observation time. The international team, led by principal investigators Jeyhan Kartaltepe and Caitlin Casey, includes nearly 100 astronomers from around the world.
The first snapshot of COSMOS-Web contains approximately 25,000 galaxies, larger than the number found in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. It is also one of the largest JWST images taken so far, and yet only represents 4% of the data that will be gathered for the full survey.
Three primary science goals
COSMOS-Web has three primary science goals: to further understand the Reionization Era, to identify and characterize early massive galaxies in the first two billion years, and to study how dark matter has evolved with the stellar content of galaxies. COSMOS-Web is also the widest area that JWST will observe in its first year, allowing for the study of galaxies across a range of local environments.
The mosaics were created from six telescope pointings taken in January 2023. The telescope will take 77 pointings in April and May, roughly half the field, with the remaining 69 pointings scheduled for December 2023 and January 2024.
JWST’s images taken so far show incredible detail compared to previous observations by other observatories, such as the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope. With the completion of the COSMOS-Web program next year, scientists are eagerly anticipating more stunning images and discoveries to come.
The James Webb Space Telescope
JWST is the largest and most complex space telescope ever built, with a primary mirror that is more than six times larger than that of the Hubble Space Telescope. Its scientific instruments are designed to study the universe in the infrared range, allowing it to observe some of the earliest and most distant objects in the universe.
The telescope is designed to operate at a temperature of -273°C, or just a few degrees above absolute zero. It orbits the Sun at a distance of about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, in a location known as the second Lagrange point, or L2. This position will give it a clear sky view without Earth’s atmosphere or heat interference.
The scientific goals of JWST include studying the formation of galaxies, stars, and planetary systems, as well as the origins of life on Earth. It will also study the atmospheres of exoplanets, planets outside our solar system, to determine if they have the necessary conditions for life.
You can access detailed information on the survey design, implementation, and future prospects of COSMOS-Web on ArXiv. To download high-quality images captured as a part of the COSMOS-Web program, visit the official website of COSMOS.
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