On October 11, 2022, the James Webb Space Telescope spent over 20 hours observing the Hubble Ultra Deep Field for the first time, uncovering new insights into the formation and evolution of galaxies in the universe.
While the Hubble space telescope had previously discovered that this region was full of galaxies, the Webb telescope revealed the extent of these galaxies by using the Near-Infrared Camera to capture images of spectral features with higher sensitivity and accuracy in measuring colors. This allowed astronomers to better understand the history of star formation and ionization properties of galaxies during the first billion years of the universe.
In particular, by measuring the energy that galaxies produced during this time, astronomers hope to gain insights into how galaxies reionized the universe, reverting it from being neutral gas to being an ionized plasma after the big bang.
The Webb telescope also provides a hybrid between imaging and spectroscopy, allowing for detailed information to be gathered for all of the galaxies in the field of view, rather than just a few selected ones. This enhances the understanding of the early processes involved in the formation and evolution of galaxies in the universe.
As the Webb telescope is still new, astronomers are still learning the best practices for analyzing data sets. By having a few data sets available immediately, they can better plan future programs and understand the best way to make use of Webb data moving forward.
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