Launched successfully the space telescope James Webb, the successor to the older Hubble telescope. The James Webb is the largest and most advanced telescope ever sent into space, ushering in a new era in astronomy and astrophysics. It is a joint mission of the US Space Agency (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency.
The launch was carried out with a European Arian 5 rocket, shortly after noon, from the European spacecraft in Kourou, French Guinea in northeastern South America. The $ 10 billion telescope will orbit the Sun at the second Lagrange or L2 point, staying at a fixed distance of about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth or about four times farther from the Moon. By comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope – launched in 1990 – is about a third of that distance from our planet (almost 550 kilometers).
James Webb is expected to reach L2 a month after its launch. Then there will be an installation and adjustment period of six months. He is expected to start collecting data and making the first observations in mid-2022.
The telescope, built mainly by the American company Northrop Grumman and named after the head of NASA in the 1960s, is much more sensitive than the Hubble and will “see” mainly in the infrared part of the spectrum, which will allow it to observes through clouds of dust and gas, while Hubble operates mainly in the optical and ultraviolet part of the spectrum.
The new telescope, which will provide improved infrared resolution and sensitivity compared to Hubble, will be used in a vast array of research in astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology, from studying the atmosphere of relatively near exoplanets to observing distant exoplanets. galaxies.
The James Webb has a mass of 6 tons and 6.25 times larger collector area, hence the sensitivity, compared to the Hubble. In addition, it has a significantly larger field of view, covering 15 times the area of the sky. Its primary mirror consists of 18 hexagonal sections, made of gilded beryllium, which unfold and adapt to form a mirror 6.5 meters in diameter. Its largest component is the five-layer solar shield, which reduces the sunlight that reaches the telescope by a million times and is the main cause of its large size (20 by 14 meters).