James Webb Space Telescope

Webb is the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It studies every phase in the history of our Universe.

active Mission
A montage of the Webb Space Telescope over a composited background of stars and galaxies.

Webb studies every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System. Webb launched on Dec. 25th 2021. It does not orbit around the Earth like the Hubble Space Telescope, it orbits the Sun 1.5 million kilometers (1 million miles) away from the Earth at what is called the second Lagrange point or L2. 

Mission Type

Astrophysics

Partners

NASA/ESA/CSA

Launch

Dec 25, 2021

Arrival at L2

Jan 24, 2022

Key Facts

This image is from Webb’s NIRCam instrument, which saw this nebula in the near-infrared.

extending the tantalizing discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Engineers Prep James Webb Telescope for Integration

So big it has to fold origami-style to fit in the rocket and will unfold like a “Transformer” in space.

Webb Lagrange Points

Webb orbits the Sun 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth. (Hubble orbits 560 kilometers above the Earth.)

NASA’s Webb Sunshield Successfully Unfolds and Tensions in Final Tests

Webb has a 5-layer sunshield that protects the telescope from the infrared radiation of the Sun, Earth, and Moon; like having sun protection of SPF 1 million.

The image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago

iIt will peer back in time over 13.5 billion years to see the first galaxies born after the Big Bang.in the ISS.

Researchers analyzing data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have pinpointed three galaxies that may be actively forming when the universe was only 400 to 600 million years old. Webb’s data shows these galaxies are surrounded by gas that the researchers suspect to be almost purely hydrogen and helium, the earliest elements to exist in the cosmos. Webb’s instruments are so sensitive that they were able to detect an unusual amount of dense gas surrounding these galaxies. This gas will likely end up fueling the formation of new stars in the galaxies.

This illustration is awash in bright blues, with only areas of the black background of space peeking out near the edges. Just above center is a large white spiral galaxy that is forming within a large cloud of blue gas. Its spiral arms twirl clockwise. Immediately around the galaxy’s edges are larger light blue dots. The gas appears thicker and brighter blue below the galaxy and toward the bottom left in what looks like a loose, extended column. Other wispy blue gas appears all around the galaxy, extending to every edge of the illustration. There are two additional spiral galaxies, though they are about half the size of the one at the center. They appear toward the top left and bottom right, and both are connected to regions of blue gas. Several bright knots dot the brightest blue areas near the center, and toward the top right. The background is clearer and more obviously black along a wider area at the left edge, a sliver along the top right, and in triangles toward the bottom right corner.
This illustration shows a galaxy forming only a few hundred million years after the big bang, when gas was a mix of transparent and opaque during the Era of Reionization. Data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope shows that cold gas is falling onto these galaxies.
NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

Latest News

Webb's latest news releases in reverse chronological order. Search and sort the news feed and search results with the controls immediately below.

This illustration is awash in bright blues, with only areas of the black background of space peeking out near the edges. Just above center is a large white spiral galaxy that is forming within a large cloud of blue gas. Its spiral arms twirl clockwise. Immediately around the galaxy’s edges are larger light blue dots. The gas appears thicker and brighter blue below the galaxy and toward the bottom left in what looks like a loose, extended column. Other wispy blue gas appears all around the galaxy, extending to every edge of the illustration. There are two additional spiral galaxies, though they are about half the size of the one at the center. They appear toward the top left and bottom right, and both are connected to regions of blue gas. Several bright knots dot the brightest blue areas near the center, and toward the top right. The background is clearer and more obviously black along a wider area at the left edge, a sliver along the top right, and in triangles toward the bottom right corner.

Galaxies Actively Forming in Early Universe Caught Feeding on Cold Gas

Researchers analyzing data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have pinpointed three galaxies that may be actively forming when the universe was only 400 to 600 million years old. Webb’s data shows these galaxies are surrounded by gas that the…

Article3 days ago
Space scene of a thin atmosphere version of Gliese 12 b

NASA’s TESS Finds Intriguing World Sized Between Earth, Venus

Using observations by NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) and many other facilities, two international teams of astronomers have discovered a planet between the sizes of Earth and Venus only 40 light-years away. Multiple factors make it a candidate well-suited…

Article3 days ago
Illustration of an exoplanet with a hazy blue atmosphere and loose bands of clouds on the black background of space. The right three-quarters of the planet is lit by a star not shown in the illustration. The left quarter is in shadow. The terminator, the boundary between the day and night sides is gradual, not sharp. The planet is light blue with loose bands of white clouds. The limb of the planet (the edge) has a subtle blue glow.

Webb Cracks Case of Inflated Exoplanet

Why is the warm gas-giant exoplanet WASP-107 b so puffy? Two independent teams of researchers have an answer. Data collected using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, combined with prior observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, show surprisingly little methane (CH4)…

Article6 days ago
Illustration of a rocky exoplanet and its star. The star is in the background at the lower left and appears somewhat, but not significantly, smaller in the sky than the planet. It has a bright orange-red glow, and appears to have an active surface. The planet is in the foreground to the upper right of the star. The left quarter of the planet (the side facing the star) is lit, while the rest is in shadow. The planet has hints of a rocky, partly molten surface beneath the haze of a thin atmosphere. The boundary between the day and night sides of the planet is fuzzy.

NASA’s Webb Hints at Possible Atmosphere Surrounding Rocky Exoplanet

Researchers using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope may have detected atmospheric gases surrounding 55 Cancri e, a hot rocky exoplanet 41 light-years from Earth. This is the best evidence to date for the existence of any rocky planet atmosphere outside…

Article3 weeks ago


Latest 2024 Images

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Cas A - Chandra/Webb/Hubble/Spitzer composite
Featured Story

Webb Celebrates First Year of Science With Close-up on Birth of Sun-like Stars

From our cosmic backyard in the solar system to distant galaxies near the dawn of time, NASA’s James Webb Space…

Read the Story
Red dual opposing jets coming from young stars fill the darker top half of the image, while a glowing pale-yellow, cave-like structure is bottom center, tilted toward two o’clock, with a bright star at its center. See extended description for more.