James Webb arrives at destination, shows ‘the main part of the universe’ that surpasses Hubble

The James Webb Space Telescope arrived at its final destination, the 2nd Lagrange, at 5:00 am on the 25th (Korean time). Starting today, real-time information about the James Telescope will be available through NASA’s online broadcast. [사진=NASA 방송 화면 갈무리]

The ‘James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)’ arrived at its final destination, ‘Second Lagrange Point (L2)’ at 5:00 am on the 25th (Korean time). In the future, the James Telescope will serve as the ‘eye of mankind’ at point L2. The oldest star currently discovered by mankind was formed about 13.6 billion years ago, and the James Telescope is expected to find the ‘first star in the universe’ earlier than this.

According to AFP news, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that the James Telescope had arrived at the second Lagrange point (L2), about 1.5 million km from Earth at 2 pm (local time) on the 24th. Starting today, you can also find real-time information about the James Telescope through NASA’s online broadcast.

Last year, the James Telescope was launched on Christmas Day. The successful launch of the James Telescope was a historic event that could change the way we view the universe, and it came as a gift that opened up a new chapter in astronomy. When the James Telescope starts observing, expectations are growing that it will be possible to observe the ‘Dawn of the Universe’, an early universe right after the Big Bang.

◆ How is James Webb different from Hubble?

The James Telescope, launched on December 25 last year, is the largest space telescope in history, with an investment of 10 billion dollars (11.85 trillion won) since its development in 1996. It is evaluated as the next-generation space telescope that succeeds the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been operating for the past 30 years.

The James Telescope is about 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope. Unlike the Hubble Telescope, which observes visible light, the James Telescope sees stars in infrared light. For this purpose, it is equipped with a 6.5m reflector and four infrared observation devices. It means that the reflector has grown to about three times the size of Hubble and the spectroscopy equipment has been supplemented.

In addition, it is expected to be able to observe objects in space farther than the Hubble Telescope because it observes using infrared rays. As the light from a distant star moves away, the wavelength of the light gets longer, which is called ‘redshift’. At this time, the light changes from visible light to infrared light, which the James Telescope uses.

◆ Only 1 chance, more than 300 moves are all successful

The James Telescope spread out five layers of light shielding the thickness of a human hair and spread out a telescope made of 18 hexagonal mirrors. The course consisted of over 300 moves and you only had one chance.

The James Telescope was launched with the shading screen folded like origami due to its gigantic size. And the outer shading film was fixed for 5 hours on the 3rd day of this month. On the next day, the 4th, it was successful in spreading and fixing all the shading screens the size of a tennis court.

The reflector deployment was supposed to unfold toward the L2 point, and all deployments were completed on the 8th. And today the James Telescope has perfected the deceleration to reach its final position. Then, the thrusters were fired for 5 minutes and successfully arrived at the destination.

All mechanical movements of the James Telescope were completed, even decelerating perfectly. Now, when the adjustment and equipment inspection are carried out for the remaining five months, the preparations for the observation of the James Telescope for a total of six months are completed.

◆ Why is the destination Lagrange?

The James Webb Space Telescope has arrived at the 2nd Lagrange point (L2).  The James Telescope will orbit the Sun and Earth from this position.  The image is an approximation of the path the James Telescope will take.[영상=제임스웹 유튜브]
The James Webb Space Telescope has arrived at the 2nd Lagrange point (L2). The James Telescope will orbit the Sun and Earth from this position. The image is an approximation of the path the James Telescope will take. [영상=제임스웹 유튜브]

At the Lagrange point, where the James Telescope arrived, the sun is always obscured by the Earth, so it is hardly disturbed by sunlight. So it can be observed into the distant universe. However, it must withstand the sun’s rays and the radiant heat of the earth. This is why the James Telescope’s performance is optimized only when it is in cryogenic conditions of -233ºC.

The Lagrange point where the James Telescope arrived is one of the five Lagrange points between the Sun and the Earth. Of these, the James Telescope orbits a point on the other side of the Earth further away from the Sun. This is the point where the gravitational force and centripetal force of the sun and the earth coincide.

The James Telescope will remain in this ‘stable position’ and follow the Earth in the future. It plans to orbit the sun with the earth while maintaining a constant distance of 1.5 million km from the earth in the form of a ‘companion’ who is always in the same place.

A plan for staying in a stable position was also prepared. The James Telescope’s orbit will be adjusted about every 20 days. The thrusters fire for two to three minutes, leaving the James Telescope in place.

The ‘Space Observatory’ James Telescope, which arrived across space, now paved the way for science to begin. The James Telescope is orbiting the Earth at this moment and preparing to observe it. When the remaining work is completed, it is expected that the images sent by the James Telescope will be available from the end of June.

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