James Webb Space Telescope, What's the Fuzz about?

James Webb Space Telescope was designed to capture the extremely faint radiation emission from the first generation of galaxies, which must have formed 100 to 200 million years after the birth of the universe.

The James Webb Telescope is the successor of Hubble telescope.

JWST is an amazing feet of engineering, dedication and effort. It original started being developed as a concept in 1996 and has gone through a lot of changes but also it pushed the boundaries of technology and got pushed by them as well.

Before we move forward, I want you to just look at it. Even if we don't understand the goal, the mechanics, the physics behind it - I believe that it is a work of art.

I want to give a lot of credit to Destin and his channel Smarter Every Day. He is really inspiring and actually it was on his channel that I learned about JWST.

What is the goal of JWST?

JWST has an incredibly ambitious goal. It aims to probe the eternal space to discover the history of the universe from the Big Bang to existence of alien forms and planet formations.

It is the successor to the Humble telescope, but with heightened capabilities in terms of wavelength coverage and sensitivity.

The telescope will be positioned in a quite popular spot called Lagrane Point L2, and it will orbit our sun at about 1.5 million kilometers away from earth. The L2 point is a "stable" location in time in terms of gravitational forces that is positioned so that there it remains in line with Earth while orbiting the sun.

What is that yellow thing?

The mirrors on the telescope are probably one of the most fascinating things on it - although in my opinion it is fascinating as a whole!

In short, the mirrors work similarly to radio dishes. They receive light from different angles and reflect them to a specific spot of the "dish". The coating of the mirrors on the telescope is made from gold and the material itself is beryllium. These mirrors are able to reflect 98% of light received thus reducing the amount of "data" we would lose. Part of the reason for its hexagon shape is also because it needed to be folded for launch.

Bellow you can see in some detail the different parts of the telescope's mirror.

Beryllium?

This metal is very useful and probably we would not have been able to reach such capabilities without it. Beryllium has main useful properties, it is lightweight and it can withstand extreme cold temperatures.

Many people discuss how the telescope will be extremely cold, but why?

The telescope aims to observe infrared frequencies, which are essentially heat. In order to process that "info" we need to keep the telescope mirror cool, otherwise it wouldn't be able to detect the light sources we are looking for and that's were beryllium kicks in. It allows us to keep the telescope cool without having issues about its strength.

Frequencies

We mentioned above that the telescope aims to look for infrared light and there is a very simple reason why.

See light is also a wave and as waves travel they change their frequencies, based on our calculations about the expansion of the universe we believe that light that originated from the start of time will be within the infrared wavelength and that's what we aim to look for.

In short, James webb telescope is a time machine that will allow us to see into the past and through all the years of development of this telescope this has been the goal both for the project but also for the technology involved.

Spectrum visible by James Webb Telescope

Status

The telescope was launched on December 25th 2021. It was a very successful launch which has even increased the life expectancy of the telescope due to the efficiency of the fuel consumption.

Together with friends (remotely) we watched the launch and even though it wasnt as spectacular as some SpaceX launches (which was also due to the cloudy weather), it gave us some wonderful images when the telescope detached from the rocket.

Telescope right after detachment from rocket

By the end of January 2022 it should have reached the L2 point and then it will spend half a year calibrating itself and then it is time for the magic to happen.

You can see the full timeline here and you can check it's progress live on youtube

I do not know how to express how important this is. If we combine the goal and that it should be completed in approximately 10 years, it is magnificent and a bit scary what will come out of this science experiment.

Stay tuned with James Webb Telescope 😊