Tuesday, NASA released a new series of images from the James Webb Space Telescope that they say are “the deepest and sharpest” images of the distant universe to date.

The size of a tennis court and three stories high, the Webb is the largest telescope ever sent into space, according to NASA.

The first full-color image released Monday marked the official beginning of Webb’s general science operations. Using infrared wavelengths, Webb Telescope shows thousands of the first stars and galaxies that formed some 13 billion years ago, about 1 billion years after the Big Bang.

First image from the James Webb Space Telescope released:It shows thousands of galaxies

This side-by-side comparison shows observations of the Southern Ring Nebula in near-infrared light, at left, and mid-infrared light, at right, from NASA’s Webb Telescope. Details like these from the late stages of a star’s life help to better understand how stars evolve and transform their environments.

These images also reveal a cache of distant galaxies in the background. Most of the multi-colored points of light seen here are galaxies – not stars.

In one image of the Southern Ring planetary nebula, the shells of gas and dust ejected from dying stars like our sun, provide detail from the late stages of a star’s life.

Most of the multi-colored points of light seen here are galaxies.

Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, is Webb’s largest image to date, covering about one-fifth of the Moon’s diameter.
This image reveals previously obscured areas of star birth. Called the Cosmic Cliffs, the region is actually the edge of a gigantic, gaseous cavity roughly 7,600 light-years away

The “steam” that appears to rise from the celestial “mountains” is actually hot, ionized gas and hot dust streaming away from the nebula due to intense, ultraviolet radiation.

Webb chronicled the Cosmic Cliffs, a region located roughly 7,600 lightyears away. This period of very early star formation is rare and difficult to capture, according to NASA.

Technicians lift the mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope using a crane at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md on April 13, 2017. The telescope is designed to peer back so far that scientists will get a glimpse of the dawn of the universe about 13.7 billion years ago and zoom in on closer cosmic objects, even our own solar system, with sharper focus.

Contributing: USA Today’s Doyle Rice 

Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY’s NOW team. 

 

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