Far out! The James Webb Space Telescope takes the first picture ever of something outside the sun.

Don’t bother with consumer cameras or cameras on phones. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is one of the most exciting ways to take pictures we have right now. It has shown us places and planets we’ll never be able to visit and strange things we can’t even imagine.

Far out The James Webb Space Telescope takes the first picture ever of something outside the sun.
(Image credit: NASA/ESA/CSA, A Carter (UCSC), the ERS 1386 team, and A. Pagan (STScI))

Even though the James Webb Space Telescope(opens in new tab) has only been working for a few months, we’ve already seen some amazing and beautiful pictures from it (opens in new tab). Now, astronomers have used the telescope to take a picture of a planet outside our solar system for the first time ever.

The picture shows a gas giant planet with no solid surface. Using a telescope, four different light filters were used to look at it. According to the official NASA release (opens in new tab), Webb’s powerful infrared eyes “can easily capture worlds beyond our solar system, paving the way for future observations that will reveal more information than ever before about exoplanets.”

How did the “picture” of the extrasolar planet get made?

The great thing about NASA is that it tells the rest of the world what it finds. This gives us new ideas about the universe we live in and helps us learn more about physics and space. NASA shared the picture below, which shows that the picture of the exoplanet HIP 65426 b, which has a cool name, is made up of four different camera views from the NIRCam instrument at different micrometer measurements.

Far out The James Webb Space Telescope takes the first picture ever of something outside the sun. 1
This image shows the exoplanet named HIP 65426 b in different bands of infrared light, as seen from the James Webb Space Telescope (Image credit: NASA/ESA/CSA, A Carter (UCSC), the ERS 1386 team, and A. Pagan (STScI))

“These pictures look different because of how the light is caught by the different Webb instruments. A coronagraph is a set of masks in each instrument that blocks out the light of the host star so that the planet can be seen. The host star HIP 65426 has been taken out of each picture by using coronagraphs and image processing. This is shown by the small white star in each picture. The bar shapes in the NIRCam images are caused by the way the telescope’s lenses work, not by anything in the scene.

Those who put the picture together

We can’t forget that this telescope is the result of years of research, planning, and the work of hundreds of scientists. Aarynn Carter, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, looked at the pictures.

Carter says, 

“Obtaining this image felt like digging for space treasure,”

Carter says, 

“At first all I could see was light from the star, but with careful image processing, I was able to remove that light and uncover the planet. I think what’s most exciting is that we’ve only just begun. There are many more images of exoplanets to come that will shape our overall understanding of their physics, chemistry, and formation. We may even discover previously unknown planets, too.”

Even though they won’t let you see planets outside our solar system, the best telescopes are great for looking at the night sky, and the best camera for astrophotography can help you take pictures of it.

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