First Snapshot Of Our Universe From James Webb Space Telescope

Peeking into the past with the most powerful space telescope

Sunny Labh
3 min readJul 12, 2022


NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is the most sophisticated scientific observatory ever made by humankind. NASA, in collaboration with European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), launched and is operating this telescope. Launched in December 2021, the telescope was put in orbit in January 2022. The telescope is named after the administrator of NASA, James E. Webb who was the administrator during the Gemini and the Apollo programs. Previously, NASA had the deepest observations into the universe’s distant past using the Hubble Space Telescope which is powerful enough to observe and capture the night sky up to billions of light-years away called the Hubble Deep Fields. JWST is the successor of the Hubble Space Telescope with much sophistication and powerful infrared resolution technology.

On 11th July 2022, President Joe Biden released the first image from the James Web Space Telescope. The image peeks into thousands of galaxies in the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 revealing the distant past for us making it one of the sharpest images of the earliest universe.

Webb Deep Field. Image credit: JWST/NASA/ESA/CSA/STScl

The distortions seen in the image are due to a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing where the galaxy clusters distort the space-time curvature to a great extent. The spiked structures seen in the image are stars from our own galaxy while the rest of the objects are galaxies. We’re basically peeking into the past of our universe.

With the help of advanced infrared resolution technology, JWST can take far deep, and clear images of the earliest universe penetrating through the gas and dust clouds of space giving us more detailed information about the universe. Unlike, Hubble which is optimized for visible light and takes pictures using that optimization, the JWST is a sophisticated machine optimized with infrared. With a bigger mirror and more advanced mechanisms, the JWST can potentially help us understand the mysteries of the earliest universe shaping our understanding of modern astronomy and cosmology.

Here’s an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope of the same part of the sky.

Hubble Deep Field. Image credit: NASA-HST/ESA

The differences in clarity and sharpness between the two can be clearly seen. The rest of the three images and the spectroscopic data of the atmosphere of the gas giant WASP-96b will be released by NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center at 14:30 UTC, Tuesday, July 12th.

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Sunny Labh

Science writer and communicator majoring in Quantum Mechanics. Curator of @PhysInHistory on twitter. Twitter: @thePiggsBoson