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A healthy dose of humility was delivered yesterday by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which in concert with the ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) delivered the first full-color images from the James Webb Space Telescope.

Here it is:

NASA said on its site that this first image "is the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail. Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground."

More from the NASA statement:  "This deep field, taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totaling 12.5 hours – achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond the Hubble Space Telescope’s deepest fields, which took weeks.

"The image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. The combined mass of this galaxy cluster acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it. Webb’s NIRCam has brought those distant galaxies into sharp focus – they have tiny, faint structures that have never been seen before, including star clusters and diffuse features. Researchers will soon begin to learn more about the galaxies’ masses, ages, histories, and compositions, as Webb seeks the earliest galaxies in the universe."

More images will be posted on the NASA site beginning at 10:30 am EDT today.

KC's View:

I am awed by the images and gobsmacked by the scientific acumen involved in generating this view of the universe.

Our relative insignificance in the universe never has been so evident.