L'observatoire James-Webb, en décembre 2020. La taille des hommes qui s'affairent autour permet de prendre conscience de la taille hors norme de cet observatoire. © Nasa, Chris Gunn

The James Webb Space Telescope promises a leap forward in astronomy

The James Webb Space TelescopePresented as Hubble’s older brother rather than its successor, it still looks set to be launched by Ariane 5 by the end of the year. This observatory will show its full potential by observing the first objects that formed only a hundred million years after the formation of the universe, which today is the limit of Hubble’s capabilities. JWST should allow significant progress to be made.

Exceptional mission. James Webb (JWST, to James Webb Space Telescope) is the largest astronomical telescope ever launched into space. This tool, as a result of cooperation between space agencies – NASAAnd the who – which And the ASC He must keep an eye on a very diverse range of targets including far-away visible objects that have ever been recorded. Very dim and almost invisible to Hubble telescope, they are the reason for James Webb who should come as close as possible to the end of the so-called period Dark AgesThe inflationary stage that gave birth to the great structures and first things of the universe. If James-Webb was able to see these first things only a hundred million years after their formation, then the Holy Grail of Astronomy scientistsHe, however, would not be able to see it “light up” when the Dark Ages came out.

A trip back in time to the Astronomers Cup كأس

As Pierre Verruet, Scientific Co-Chief of the James Webb Expedition at the European Space Agency, explained to us, JWST’s greatest discoveries are ” The ones we obviously can’t anticipate or imagine What must be understood is that this observatory represents This is a leap forward for astronomy “There will inevitably be discoveries.” in all fields of astronomy In addition, if the telescope Hubble It reaches its limits when it comes to observing objects that formed after only a few hundred million years the great explosion, « This is truly where JWST will demonstrate the full range of its capabilities and provide tremendous knowledge of this pivotal period in the history of the universe, just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. ».

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Quite simply, Webb will be the largest astronomical telescope ever launched into space

James Webb’s dimensions are hard to understand. Realizes, with a height of more than 20 meters, a Mirror The Webb is the largest astronomical telescope ever launched into space, a 6.5-meter base telescope and a heat shield (umbrella) the size of a tennis court. With these dimensions, it can only be released folded to make it fit inside a cover Ariane Launcher 5. If it clearly surpasses all those previously launched into space, it is on par with some ground observatories It outperforms all ground tools that work in theInfrared, with a profit of 10 to 100!

Iconic images to be revisited

If Hubble’s images with the general public, some of which have become as iconic as images of the Eagle Nebula or the Deep Fields, have greatly helped the popularity ofastronomyJames-Webb will undoubtedly highlight this trend. We already know that Webb will revisit these iconic images, and as a result you will get new information.

With a return on a tripAriane 5 Scheduled for July, James-Webb will launch by the end of the year, at best late November, early December.

The first photos are scheduled for June 2022

If it is necessary for him a month to return to his position in Point de Lagrange L2It is located 1.5 million kilometers from our planet, or about four times the distance from the Moon, and six months will be necessary for those responsible for the mission to put it into service. The first images are scheduled for June 2022. The mirror will be posted throughout the flight it will take to L2.

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An extraordinary bulge for observing the universe

It is clear that this point of Lagrange 2 was not chosen at random. It is an extraordinary protrusion of deep space observation, far from the Sun and Earth, which allows James Webb to achieve very ambitious scientific goals. At this distance, the telescope and its four instruments (two of which are provided by Europe), under a heat shield, will operate continuously at -253°C, a temperature close to absolute zero, was set at -273.15 °C.

You will understand that the main concern of L2 is that the Sun, Earth and Moon will be constantly “behind” the sunvisor, so that the telescope and its instruments are always in the cold and dark. As JWST will accompany the Earth around the Sun, all places in the sky will become observable over periods of at least 50 days. So the whole sky will be within reach Astronomy scientists During the year, except for solar system indoors, i.e. the sun, MercureAnd the Venus and Earth.

This space observatory will operate for at least five years. It has enough “fuel” to run for 10 years.

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