Hubble captures a record-breaking “sneak peek” of James Webb space telescope finds

What’s up

The Hubble Space Telescope captured the largest near-infrared image of the sky ever.

Why it matters

This gigantic survey could pave the way for the next generation of James Webb Space Telescope discoveries, and ultimately help humans understand some of the most elusive areas in our universe.

In the midst of the excitement of discussing astronomy’s shiny new toy, The James Webb Space Telescopewe can not forget Hubble.

Since its launch in late December last year, JWST has been making waves, carrying hopes and dreams for big-eyed scientists, along with gold-plated mirrors and a range of high-tech infrared cameras that can penetrate star dust and help us solve long-lasting black hole mysteries. But tried and tested Hubble is still struggling, and has actually just reached a fairly large milestone.

The Hubble Space Telescope, which ventured into the cosmos as far back as 1990, has captured its largest near-infrared image of space ever, thus stepping into waters that JWST is ready to explore.

This remarkable image can shed light on some of the rarest objects in the universe, such as monster galaxies that are the product of massive galaxy mergers or super-violent black holes lurking deep in interstellar space.

“It was difficult to study these extremely rare events using existing images, which is what motivated the design of this large survey,” Lamiya Mowla said in a statement. Mowla is an astrophysicist at the University of Toronto and lead author of a study on the study, a preview of which is available on arXiv. It will soon be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Part of a new high-resolution study called 3D-Dash, which stands for “operation and shift,” Hubble’s latest dataset almost covers an area of ​​the sky six times the size of the moon seen from the earth. You can actually explore it yourself here. What you are looking at is a mosaic of several photos taken by Hubble that were later sewn together.

Try zooming out and dragging the screen around – it’s quite spectacular how much earth (sky?) This image covers.

Photomosaic showing a number of galaxies

Galaxies from the last 10 billion years were seen in the 3D-Dash program.

Lamiya Mowla

“Since its launch more than 30 years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope has led a renaissance in the study of how galaxies have changed over the last 10 billion years of the universe,” Mowla said. “The 3D-DASH program expands Hubble’s legacy of large-scale imaging so that we can begin to uncover the mysteries of galaxies beyond our own.”

What is an infrared image?

When you look up at the sky, even though you are in the darkest forest valley on earth, you do not see all the stars. And it’s not because some of the stars are not in your line of sight.

They are there – but they are invisible.

Human eyes can only visualize light wavelengths within a specific range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Just outside this region is infrared light. And galaxies and stars that are very, very far away emit just this kind of light – so they are essentially hidden from our eyes, no matter what we try to do.

But Hubble, and JWST too, have a way around our human limitation. Scientists built both of these instruments with what are basically infrared light detectors.

A diagram of the electromagnetic spectrum showing which regions Hubble and Webb can see.

This infographic illustrates the spectrum of electromagnetic energy, and highlights the parts discovered by NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer and Webb space telescopes.

NASA and J. Olmsted [STScI]

As the diagram shows, JWSTs infrared forces is much (much) stronger – which is why it has the potential to show us tons of things our eyes cannot see – but Hubble has some of these special light processing capabilities.

In addition, Hubble actually has a leg up on JWST here.

According to the researchers behind the new study, JWST is designed to take very sensitive, close-ups of deep space, so that we get very clear images of small interstellar areas. It is incredibly exciting since we will probably get images of distant stars, galaxies and other cosmic phenomena with a level of clarity similar to what we get for images of space-bearing objects closer to Earth.

But Hubble is extremely tolerant wide field pictures like the new we look at. Finally, such expansive datasets can inform future JWST studies, and help the next generation scope point in the right direction to reveal observations.

As Ivelina Momcheva, computer scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and lead researcher on the study, puts it: “It gives us a sneak peek at future scientific discoveries and allows us to develop new techniques for analyzing these large datasets.”