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White House unveils 1st Historical sneak peek Image from James Webb Space Telescope

Updated: Jul 12, 2022

The official beginning of a new era of seeing deeper into the universe than ever before.

July 11, 2022 President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson unveiled the first science-quality image captured by the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope on Monday (July 11) at the White House. The image is the deepest infrared view of the universe to date, according to a NASA statement, and was created using just 12.5 hours of observing time on one of the telescope's four instruments.

The first publicly released science-quality / false color image from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, revealed on July 11, 2022, is the deepest infrared view of the universe to date. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI)

The image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. The combined mass of this galaxy cluster acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it. Webb’s NIRCam has brought those distant galaxies into sharp focus – they have tiny, faint structures that have never been seen before, including star clusters and diffuse features. Researchers will soon begin to learn more about the galaxies’ masses, ages, histories, and compositions, as Webb seeks the earliest galaxies in the universe.

"Today represents an exciting new chapter in the exploration of our universe," Harris said. "From the beginning of history, humans have looked up to the night sky with wonder and thanks to dedicated people who have been working for decades in engineering and on scientific marvels, we can look to the sky with new understanding."