The first images taken by the James Webb telescope were released Tuesday in a briefing with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Biden and Harris revealed one image taken by the James Webb telescope on a livestream before sending members of the press out of the room so the briefing could continue. One stunning image showed “galaxies that are shining around other galaxies whose light has been bent,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson explained.
“You’re seeing just a small little portion of the universe,” he continued, “You know, a hundred years ago … we thought there was only one galaxy. Now, the number is unlimited.” In our galaxy, we have billions of stars and other galaxies, Nelson described.
“We’re looking back more than 13 billion years,” Nelson continued, “That light that you’re seeing on one of those little specks has been traveling for over 13 billion years. And by the way, we’re going back further because this is just the first image. They’re going back about 13.5 billion years.”
The telescope is so precise that it allows us to see the chemical composition of planets, and to establish whether they might be habitable, Nelson stated. “We are going to be able to answer questions that we don’t even know what the questions are yet.”
The $10 billion telescope launched in December. The Webb Telescope is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope, and finished six years behind schedule due to financing issues. (RELATED: Stephen Hawking Had One Clear Warning About Aliens. Scientists Are Ignoring It)
It’s here–the deepest, sharpest infrared view of the universe to date: Webb’s First Deep Field.
Previewed by @POTUS on July 11, it shows galaxies once invisible to us. The full set of @NASAWebb‘s first full-color images & data will be revealed July 12: https://t.co/63zxpNDi4I pic.twitter.com/zAr7YoFZ8C
— NASA (@NASA) July 11, 2022
Harris was first to speak, saying that she and Biden talked often about their “mutual passion” for the work conducted by the teams behind the telescope.
Biden also showed his enthusiasm for the telescope and said it’s the government’s responsibility to invest in science and technology. He also thanked the European Space Agency and Canada’s Space Agency for their collaboration on the project.
The press were told to leave just over 10 minutes after it started as the briefing continued. Little else was learned about the universe or how it works, but more pictures from the telescope are due to be released, according to NASA.