When the James Webb Space Telescope launches in October, it will be the world’s first space science observatory. Its combination of high-resolution instrumentation and infrared sensing is expected to provide astronomers with a plethora of data – not only on individual stars in the local universe, but also an unprecedented level of detail of what is happening in the heart of other galaxies.
Among those eagerly awaiting the launch of the Webb Telescope are two astronomers from the University of Virginia who are leading and working on two of the 13 Early Release Science projects selected by NASA and its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, to test its capabilities. Data from Aaron Evans and Nitya Kallivayalil’s projects, as well as the 11 other Early Release Science programs, will be immediately made available to other astronomers and archived for future research.
To put the technological leap offered by the Webb Telescope into perspective, Evans said it has about 50 times better sensitivity and 10 times better resolution than its predecessor, the Spitzer Space Telescope.
“For all of us who have worked with the Spitzer…
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