President Joe Biden unveiled this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, known as Webb’s First Deep Field, during a White House event Monday, July 11, 2022. James Webb Space Telescope is the largest space telescope ever built.

President Joe Biden released the first full-color image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Monday, during a public event at the White House in Washington. This first image showcases the powerful capabilities of the Webb mission, a partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has produced the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail. The image is said to be the deepest, most detailed infrared view of the Universe to date, containing the light from galaxies that has taken many billions of years to reach us.

Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.

This deep field, taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totaling 12.5 hours – achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond the Hubble Space Telescope’s deepest fields, which took weeks.

The image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. The combined mass of this galaxy cluster acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it. Webb’s NIRCam has brought those distant galaxies into sharp focus – they have tiny, faint structures that have never been seen before, including star clusters and diffuse features. Researchers will soon begin to learn more about the galaxies’ masses, ages, histories, and compositions, as Webb seeks the earliest galaxies in the universe.

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