Here are 7 recent answers from scientists about Webb's future observation that you may not have heard before

Credit image: NASA - James Webb Space Telescope Primary Mirror Prepared for Testing at Johnson Space Center in 2017
Credit image: NASA - James Webb Space Telescope Primary Mirror Prepared for Testing at Johnson Space Center in 2017

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 13 May 2022, at 08:35 am Los Angeles time

The most powerful telescope ever launched will begin its observations in less than 2 months, and scientists have given some essential answers in a Q&A on the telescope's Instagram account.

The James Webb Telescope has yet to go through the final phase of the commissioning process, which consists of the final alignment and analysis of the scientific instruments that will surprise us this summer with their observations.

Until engineers try to put scientific instruments into operation, scientists answer probably the most popular questions about the future of the telescope and its observations.

  • The entire telescope moves at very fast speeds, right? Would that result in any damages to the instruments?

"Since space is quite empty, JWST will not feel its speed at all - there's no drag from the air or anything," -Eiichi Egami

  • How will you know the light detected by the NIRCam are from the "first" galaxies?

"By looking at the photometry (e.g. color in difterent tilters) and spectrum of a galaxy, we will be able to determine how far away it is, and combining that with the "look-back effect," we will be able to infer a what point in the universe's history that galaxy is forming," -Aaron Yung


"To produce high-quality data with good calibration that are immediately usable for various scientific analyses," - Eiichi Egami

  • How does the NIRCam's coronagraph block bright starlight?

"NIRCam has coronagraphic masks that are mostly transparent but have small opaque spots on them. By controlling the pointing of JWST with a very high precision, we can place a bright star behind one of these opaque spots at a time, which will block most of the light from the star and allow us to see much fainter objects around it such as planets," -Eiichi Egami

  • Will we be able to detect early star formation using JWST?

"Yes! While galaxies in the early universe are extremely far from us, the young stars in these galaxies make them extremely bright and easier (still very hard!) to detect," -Aaron Yung

  • How does NIRCam convert the light into a photo and send it to us?

"As the name suggests, NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) works like a regular camera. It receives light (photons) collected and transmitted by the telescope, and forms images on the detectors. One detector consists of 2048x2048 pixels (NIRCam has 10 of them), and each pixel will produce electrons when hit by photons. The number of these electrons are counted by the instrument's electronic system, and this information is sent back to the earth via radio communication. With this information, we can produce 2D images with computers," -Eiichi Egami

  • How does NIRISS study exoplanet atmospheres, and what are you expecting to find?

"When an exoplanet crosses between its star and Webb, a portion of the starlight can be absorbed by the exoplanet's atmosphere, leaving signatures in its spectra. Using this technique, we might be able to determine if and where the building Starlight filters through blocks of life may planetary be present on atmosphere other worlds!" -Aaron Yung

About the scientists:

- Aaron Yung

- Eiichi Egami

Good Luck Webb!

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