NASA is celebrating the first year of the international James Webb Space Telescope’s scientific operations with the release of a beautiful new image.
The agency released the $10 billion-dollar observatory’s snapshot of a small star-forming region in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex.
It is the nearest star-forming region to Earth, and its proximity at 390 light-years allows for a detailed shot.
There are no foreground stars in the intervening space.
In the lower half, the star S1 carved out a glowing cave of dust. It is the only star in the image that is significantly more massive than the sun.
Some stars in the image display shadows that indicate protoplanetary disks, which are potential future planetary systems in the making.
Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope Nov. 2, 2016, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
“In just one year, the James Webb Space Telescope has transformed humanity’s view of the cosmos, peering into dust clouds and seeing light from faraway corners of the universe for the very first time. Every new image is a new discovery, empowering scientists around the globe to ask and answer questions they once could never dream of,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson remarked.
“Thousands of engineers, scientists, and leaders poured their life’s passion into this mission, and their efforts will continue to improve our understanding of the origins of the universe – and our place in it,” he said.