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The most powerful space telescope ever built will look back at the dark ages of the universe.


Some called NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope “The telescope that ate astronomy..” it is The most powerful space telescope An ever-evolving and complex piece of mechanical origami that has pushed the boundaries of human engineering. On December 18, 2021, after years of delay and costing billions of dollars, the telescope is Orbit launch schedule And start the next round of astronomy.

I am. Astronomer With one feature in the observational universe – I’ve been studying galaxies for over 30 years. Some of the biggest unanswered questions about the universe are related to the early years after the Big Bang. When did the first stars and galaxies form? Which came first, and why? I am incredibly excited that astronomers may soon unveil the story of how galaxies began, as James Webb was created specifically to answer these questions.

The ‘dark age’ of the universe.

The best evidence is that the universe began with an event called The Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, which left it in a very hot, very dense state. After the Big Bang, the universe began to expand immediately, as it cooled. One second after the Big Bang, the universe was 100 trillion miles away with an average temperature of an incredible 18 billion F (10 billion C). About 400,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe is 10 million light years away The temperature had cooled Up to 5,500 F (3,000 C). If anyone were to see it at this point, the universe would glow bright red like a big heat lamp.

Throughout this time, the space was filled with smooth soup of high energy particles, radiation, hydrogen and helium. There was no structure. As the expanding universe grew larger and colder, the soup became thinner and everything turned black. This is what astronomers call the beginning. Dark age Of the universe

It was dark soup. Not exactly the same And because of gravity, small areas of gas began to collide and become more dense. The smooth universe became wheat, and these tiny flags of multi-gas were the seeds for the final formation of stars, galaxies, and everything in the universe.

Although there was nothing to see, the Dark Ages were an important stage in the evolution of the universe.

A diagram showing different wavelengths of light compared to the size of ordinary objects.

The light of the early universe is in infrared wavelength – which means longer than red light – when it reaches Earth. Inductive load / NASA via Wikimedia Commons., CC BY-SA

The first is the search for light.

The Dark Ages came to an end when gravity created the first stars and galaxies that eventually emitted the first light. Although astronomers do not know when the first light came on, the best guess is that it was. Hundreds of millions of years After the Big Bang, astronomers did not even know that stars or galaxies formed first.

Current ideas. The formation of gravity in a dark matter-affected universe suggests that small objects – such as stars and clusters of stars – may have formed first and then later dwarf galaxies and then large galaxies such as the Milky Way. ۔ These first stars of the universe were much larger than the stars of today. They were A million times brighter But they lived very short lives. They burned hot and bright and when they died they were left behind. Black hole Up to a hundred times the mass of the sun, which can be. Served as the seed for the formation of the galaxy..

Astronomers would love to study this fascinating and important period of the universe, but finding the first light is incredibly difficult. Compared to today’s large, bright galaxies, the first objects were much smaller, and due to the constant expansion of the universe, they are now tens of billions of light years away from Earth. Also, the early stars were surrounded by gas left over from their formation, and this gas acted like a fog that absorbed most of the light. It took hundreds of millions of years. Radiation to remove fog.. This initial light is very weak by the time it reaches Earth.

But this is not the only challenge.

As the universe expands, it travels through it in constant wavelengths of light. It’s called. Red shift Because it converts short wavelength light – such as blue or white light – into long wavelength light such as red or infrared light. Although not an ideal analogy, it is the same as when a car passes in front of you, the pitch of any sound drops significantly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WgSQlRymwE.

Similarly, if the sound is moving away from you, how does the pitch of the sound fall, the wavelength of light spreads due to the expansion of the universe.

Until light from an early star or galaxy reached any telescope on Earth 13 billion years ago, the universe has expanded by an element of 10. It comes as infrared light, which means its wavelength is longer than red light. To see the first light, you have to look for infrared light.

Binoculars as a time machine.

Insert the James Webb Space Telescope.

Binoculars are like time machines. If an object is 10,000 light years away, it means that it takes 10,000 years for light to reach the earth. In this way, the eyes of astronomers in space are further enhanced. We will see in more time..

A large golden disk with sensors in the middle and scientists standing below.

The James Webb Space Telescope was specifically designed to locate the oldest galaxies in the universe. NASA / JPL-Caltech, CC BY-SA

Engineers. Improved James Webb. Especially to detect the weak infrared light of early stars or galaxies. Compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb has 15 times wider field view on his camera., Collects six times more light and its sensors are highly sensitive to infrared light.

The strategy would be to Keep staring at a piece of the sky for a long time.Gather as much light and information as possible from distant and ancient galaxies. With this data, it may be possible to answer when and how the Dark Ages ended, but many other important discoveries remain. For example, it is possible to unravel this story. Help explain the nature of the dark matter., The mysterious form of matter that forms. The mass of the universe 80.

This is James Webb. The most difficult technical mission NASA has ever tried. But I think the scientific questions that can help answer them will be worth every effort. I and other astronomers are eagerly awaiting the return of data in 2022.

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