In a long-anticipated press conference this morning, July 12, NASA released the first images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, the sharpest and most detailed infrared photographs ever captured of space. The $10 billion technology is three times sharper and 100 times more sensitive than the Hubble Telescope, which launched 32 years ago in 1990.
The James Webb Space Telescope, inaugurated on Christmas Day of 2021, is a collaboration between NASA and the European and Canadian space agencies. Below are the first awe-inspiring images released so far; this article will be updated as additional photographs are made available.
One photograph shows an area of sky that would be the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length to a person standing on Earth. The image depicts a galaxy cluster 4.6 billion light-years away, showing us what this portion of the universe looked like back then.
A momentous portrait of the Southern Ring Nebula — captured in near-infrared light in one photograph and mid-infrared light in another — shows a star that was at one point similar to our Sun. The star has now stopped creating energy through nuclear fusion, and over thousands of years, has shed at least eight layers of gas and dust. Stars locked in orbit disrupt the normal shedding of gas and dust and result in the asymmetrical pattern seen in the images.
One of the most striking images released so far shows the Carina Nebula, a “stellar nursery” 7,600 light-years away. Each glittering speck is a young star. The infrared photograph displays a region called the Cosmic Cliffs and depicts a massive space — some of the “mountains” are seven light-years high.
On social media, some users have highlighted the differences between the images from the Hubble space telescope and those taken by the new Webb telescope. In one Tweet, @liberato_gio places two similar images side by side, showing the disparity in detail between the two photographs.
“It’s astounding,” US President Joe Biden said during a press conference yesterday, July 11, referring to “the oldest documented light in the history of the universe — from over 13 billion — let me say it again — over 13 billion years ago.”
This article will be updated as photographs are made available, below.
Bobby Wilson Combats Indigenous Stereotypes Through Humor
The artist-performer’s career undulates, ever so gracefully, across multiple mediums and registers of generational pain, healing laughter, and Indigenous joy.
Rare 19th-Century Silhouette Album’s Secrets Unlocked
Traveling portrait artist William Bache’s album depicts famous figures like Thomas Jefferson as well as people whose identity was previously unknown.
Nevada Museum of Art Presents Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the innovative yet under-recognized artist is the subject of a retrospective exhibition. On view in Reno, Nevada.
Artists Show What They Can Do With a Google Phone’s Camera
Works by 20 photographers are now on view in Manhattan for the seventh season and 100th project coming out of the Google Creator Labs.
Met Museum Kicked Me Out for Praying to My Ancestral Gods
My danced prayer to looted Cambodian antiquities was too much for the New York museum.
The Public Theater in NYC Presents Plays for the Plague Year
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s theatrical concert chronicles the 2020 lockdown and the hope and perseverance that emerged from it.
A Museum Guard’s Ode to the Healing Power of Art
In All the Beauty in the World, Patrick Bringley revisits the many ways that art meets life, and life art, and how death is often the bridge between them.
UK Extends Export Ban on Coveted “Portrait of Omai”
London’s National Portrait Gallery was given a few months to acquire the work, which depicts the first Polynesian visitor to the UK.
Mondays at Pratt Institute: Weekly Openings of Work by Graduating Artists
Free and open to the public, Pratt Shows celebrate the school’s graduating students. MFA and BFA work on view this spring in Brooklyn, New York.
The Sculptor Making Art With Loved Ones’ Ashes
Inspired by the three-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, Julian Stair’s exhibition honors the lives of eight people with cinerary jars.
Art Institute of Chicago Under Scrutiny Over Sacred Nepali Necklace
The 17th-century object remains on display at the Chicago museum despite Nepal’s calls for repatriation.
LSU School of Art Grants Highest MFA Stipends in the Southern US
With funded assistantships, full tuition waivers, and generous stipends, Louisiana State University helps students lay the groundwork for a successful lifelong art practice.
Art Problems: How Do I Get a Public Art Commission?
Want to leave a mark on your city or town, but don’t know where to start? Paddy Johnson has some tips.
Rose B. Simpson Embeds Ancestral Histories in Clay
She has taken clay and used it to recall its ancestral roots in Pueblo culture and address the present history of postcolonial recovery and ongoing trauma.