The James Webb Space Telescope has been in operation for a couple of weeks now, and the space-bound observatory is already returning some of the best pictures we've ever seen of the furthest reaches of space. After NASA's first official reveal earlier this month, some citizen scientists have gotten their hands on data captured by Webb and are crafting images of their own. Case in point, Judy Schmidt shared a recent image she was able to conjure from the data of the "Phantom Galaxy," a spiral galaxy almost a million miles away from Earth.
"I've been doing this for 10 years now, and [Webb] data is new, different, and exciting," Schmidt said in a recent interview with Space.com. "Of course I'm going to make something with it."
Phantom Galaxy is the "layman's" name for NGC 628, a galaxy that some astronomers believe is shaped by a black hole at the center of it all, creating a horrifically beautiful cosmic vortex reminiscent of something one might see in the Upside Down.
"If you think about that, this is farther than humanity has ever moved before," NASA administrator Bill Nelson previously said of the JWST. "And we're only beginning to understand what Webb can and will do. It's going to explore objects in the solar system and atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, giving us clues as to whether potentially their atmospheres are similar to our own."
"Our goals for Webb's first images and data are both to showcase the telescope's powerful instruments and to preview the science mission to come," astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at STScI, added of the images. "They are sure to deliver a long-awaited 'wow' for astronomers and the public."
At its current rate, NASA officials expect the Webb Space Telescope to support scientific operations for at least then ext 10 years. In comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope was supposed to last 15 years after its 1990 launch but is still fully operational today, some 32 years later.0comments