28 Beautiful James Webb Telescope Images That Capture The Majesty Of Our Universe

Published February 13, 2024

From the Cartwheel Galaxy to the Cosmic Cliffs of the Carina Nebula, discover some of the most incredible photos taken by the James Webb Telescope.

Launched on December 25, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope is the largest and most sensitive observatory ever sent into space. Building the telescope was a massive undertaking for NASA, one that took about 20 years and $10 billion. But many experts think that the images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope prove it was worth the trouble.

Just months after its launch, the James Webb Space Telescope had already returned information on two newfound galaxies, including GLASS-z13, one of the most distant galaxies ever discovered, according to Quanta Magazine.

Pictures like these astounded even seasoned astronomers, who were thrilled to see new parts of the remote cosmos as they appeared billions of years ago. But this is just the beginning. More James Webb Telescope images will be arriving for as long as the observatory lasts, perhaps for up to 10 years.

Experts have estimated that the universe is about 13.8 billion years old, and the hope is that the James Webb Space Telescope can explore as much of that cosmic history as possible. See some of the most incredible James Webb Telescope images captured so far in the photo gallery below.

James Webb Telescope Image Of The Cosmic Cliffs
James Webb Telescope Image Of The Cartwheel Galaxy
Tarantula Nebula
James Webb Telescope Image Of Stephan's Quintet
28 Beautiful James Webb Telescope Images That Capture The Majesty Of Our Universe
View Gallery

Inside The Complicated Creation Of The James Webb Space Telescope

The road to building the James Webb Space Telescope was a long one for NASA. According to The New York Times, plans to create a successor to the famous Hubble Space Telescope first began in 1996. But the James Webb Space Telescope didn't even get its official name until 2002.

Things only got more complicated from there. From unexpected changes in the telescope's construction to delayed launches to the ever-rising cost of building the observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope took far longer than expected to launch. As the price steadily rose to $10 billion, it became more and more crucial that the expensive device would not fail.

And ahead of the long-awaited launch, some expressed concerns about the telescope's very name. Though the real James Webb was an important leader at NASA from 1961 to 1968 — overseeing the historic Apollo program — the administrator also allowed discrimination against gay government employees during his tenure. According to NPR, there is no current plan to change the name, but it remains controversial in some scientific circles.

James Webb Telescope Images

JODY AMIET/AFP via Getty ImagesThe James Webb Space Telescope at The Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana on November 5, 2021.

But despite all the conflicts over the price, timeline, and name, many experts were pleased to see that the telescope's launch from French Guiana in 2021 was a resounding success. And now that the observatory is deep in the cosmos, experts are able to enjoy the many perks that it has to offer.

As reported by NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope is an infrared observatory, meaning that it can view the cosmos at infrared wavelengths. Though the telescope is far from the first device to use infrared technology, it boasts the most sensitive infrared camera that's ever been sent into deep space, the famed Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam).

This allows us to observe parts of the universe that have never been captured by other telescopes, not even the iconic Hubble. Indeed, the Webb has already sent us some of the clearest pictures of space that we've ever seen, helping us unlock the mysteries of the universe.

Why James Webb Telescope Images Are So Important To Astronomers

As reported by Newsweek, the James Webb Space Telescope is about three times bigger than the Hubble. And thanks to its massive 21-foot-wide primary mirror, the Webb also has the ability to observe cosmic objects that are nearly nine times fainter than the objects the Hubble was able to see.

While the new telescope's NIRCam has gotten a lot of attention, it also boasts three other state-of-the-art instruments: the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), and the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph/Fine Guidance Sensor (NIRISS/FGS).

According to the Space Telescope Science Institute, these instruments all have different modes of observing objects in space. And while some may be best suited for certain phenomena, they can all be used to capture nearly anything in the cosmos, from far-off galaxies to our very own solar system.

James Webb Space Telescope

NASA/WebbOne of the last views of the James Webb Space Telescope after its launch into space.

But all of these impressive upgrades don't mean that scientists are forgetting about the Hubble. After all, the famous telescope is still in operation. Furthermore, experts are able to combine the powers of the Hubble and the Webb to create even more striking images of the universe.

Along with complementing and expanding upon some of the discoveries that the Hubble has already made, the James Webb Space Telescope is also meant to find the earliest galaxies that formed after the Big Bang. Additionally, it will tell us more about the births of stars and planets.

Further down the line, some experts also hope to use the telescope to find out more about the mysterious dark matter that helps sculpt other components of the universe. The telescope may be able to find an alien biosphere on another Earth-like planet — if such a biosphere exists. It even has the potential to determine the actual rate at which space is expanding.

On top of answering centuries-old questions, astronomers also hope that the James Webb Telescope images will raise new questions in the future. Clearly, we still have so much more to learn about the universe.

After looking through these James Webb Telescope images, learn about Edwin Hubble, the namesake of the Hubble Space Telescope. Then, explore 44 vintage NASA photos from the glory days of space exploration.

Erin Kelly
An All That's Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she's designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
Cite This Article
Kelly, Erin. "28 Beautiful James Webb Telescope Images That Capture The Majesty Of Our Universe." AllThatsInteresting.com, February 13, 2024, https://allthatsinteresting.com/james-webb-telescope-images. Accessed April 19, 2024.