NASA’s James Webb Passes Enormous Test, On Track For October 2021 Launch

Despite numerous delays, funding crises, and technical challenges, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is almost ready.

Every single component is fully built, assembled, and integrated.

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Sharpness of star-forming image matches expected resolution of Webb Space Telescope — ScienceDaily

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is still more than a year from launching, but the Gemini South telescope in Chile has provided astronomers a glimpse of what the orbiting observatory should deliver.

Using a wide-field adaptive optics camera that corrects for distortion from Earth’s atmosphere, Rice University’s Patrick Hartigan and Andrea Isella and Dublin City University’s Turlough Downes used the 8.1-meter telescope to capture near-infrared images of the Carina Nebula with the same resolution that’s expected of the Webb Telescope.

Hartigan, Isella and Downes describe their work in a study published online this week in Astrophysical Journal Letters. Their images, gathered over 10 hours in January 2018 at the international Gemini Observatory, a program of the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab, show part of a molecular cloud about 7,500 light years from Earth. All stars, including Earth’s sun, are thought to form within molecular clouds.

“The results are stunning,” Hartigan

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James Webb Telescope Will Look for Life Around Dead Stars

When NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launches next year, it may be able to find indications of life beyond our planet in an unexpected location — on planets which orbit dead stars called white dwarfs.

A recent study found an intact planet orbiting around a white dwarf, which surprised astronomers as in their death throes these stars usually destroy the planets around them when they swell before collapsing to form the white dwarf. But this planet somehow survived, giving a clue to a new type of location where we could search for habitable planets.

Rendering of a planet transiting a white dwarf star.
Rendering of a planet transiting a white dwarf star. Jack Madden, Carl Sagan Institute, Cornell University

“If rocky planets exist around white dwarfs, we could spot signs of life on them in the next few years,” Lisa Kaltenegger, one of the authors of the new study and associate professor of astronomy in the College of Arts

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