Time travel is something which has fascinated people of all ages. Who doesn't want to travel back to check out the mysteries? Who doesn't want to know the mystery behind the stars, their evolution, how were they formed, and how the whole universe was formed?
With the latest developments and efforts made by the astrophysicists, very soon, the sci-fi fantasy of time traveling will turn into a reality thanks to NASA's new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
The JWST, successor of the older Hubble Space Telescope, will give the astrophysicists a peek into the history of the galaxy formation. On March 1, Amber Straughn, an astronomer with NASA, explained the scientific goals behind this telescope, as well as the obstacles faced by it.
The James Webb Space Telescope
The giant infrared telescope which took 20 years to complete, will be using IR technology to witness the formation of the stars taking place 13 billion light years apart. This is in a bid to understand how our galaxy was formed and also what led to the creation of the universe.
Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, the JWST functions by collecting heat to create images, rather than light, using the IR technology. Thus, the telescope will allow the astrophysicists, to see "past the cosmic dust clouds that obscure the first stars" and understand their formation.
The JWST was formerly known as the "Next Generation Space Telescope" (NGST)" and was renamed after James Webb, former NASA administrator in September 2002.
Why Launch This Telescope?
According to the scientists, the universe looked like a hot mixture of particles after the Big Bang took place. The particles revolving in the space were composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
When the universe began cooling down, the neutrons and the protons came together forming ionized atoms of Hydrogen, which in turn attracted the electrons and eventually became neutral atoms.
The formation of neutral atoms allowed light to travel easily for the first time, which in turn led to the formation of the stars and the galaxies. However, with the evolution of the first star, the "cosmic dark age", came to an end. The first source of light, in turn, lead to the formation of the larger objects, which may have happened millions of years after the Big Bang.
The JWST is expected to clear out the confusion by taking images of the stars as they form.
"We're essentially seeing these objects as they were when the light first left them 13.6 billion years ago," stated NASA.
How Will The Telescope Work?
The four stories tall telescope is sized equal to that of a tennis court and is expected to be launched in October 2018 from French Guiana on top of an Ariane 5 rocket. The telescope will be folded inside the rocket and is expected to take six months to become fully operational.
The Webb Telescope will be placed millions of miles away from the Earth and is expected to go four times deeper into space than any human or probe has ever ventured. Over the period of six months, different parts of the telescope will become operational and it is expected that JWST will be transmitting back photos around the same time.
Watch the video below to see how the telescope will work.