The new JWST image is hexagon-shaped after the first part of the alignment process. See it here

Credit image: NASA
Credit image: NASA

The team that coordinates Webb is making amazing progress, as evidenced by the resulting image from Webb. It is a single star, but as the mirrors are not perfectly aligned, the same star is seen 18 times in the image. 

The team moved Webb's primary mirrors so that the 18 images in each of Webb's mirrors formed a hexagon. At the end of the alignment process that NASA is now doing, all 18 images will result in a single image. When Webb sends us the first image in which the same object is not seen 18 times, but only once, we will know that it is ready to observe extraordinary places in space. 

At this point, NASA has completed the image array process, so it will move on to the second step in the process of aligning the observer's mirrors, namely "Segment Alignment". In this second stage, the team will correct the large positioning errors of the mirror segments and will also update the alignment of the secondary mirrors, thus making each point of light individually more focused. 

"We steer the segment dots into this array so that they have the same relative locations as the physical mirrors," said Matthew Lallo, systems scientist and Telescopes Branch manager at the Space Telescope Science Institute. "During global alignment and Image Stacking, this familiar arrangement gives the wavefront team an intuitive and natural way of visualizing changes in the segment spots in the context of the entire primary mirror. We can now actually watch the primary mirror slowly form into its precise, intended shape!"

Credit image: NASA
Credit image: NASA

But until the complete alignment of the mirrors, NASA still has steps to take, and the team coordinating Webb still has a lot of work to do. In total there are 7 steps to follow, namely: 

1. Image Identification Segment (finished) 

2. Segment Alignment (in process) 

3. Image Stacking 

4. Coarse Phasing 

5. Fine Phasing 

6. Telescope Alignment Over Instrument Fields of View 

7. Iterate Alignment for Final Correction 

You can read more about these steps and the 3-month process that Webb will go through to align the mirrors here.

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 12 February 2022, at 09:20 am Los Angeles time

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