10 Most Stunning Shots From The James Webb Telescope, So Far

Evolving by leaps and bounds since its founding in 1608, the telescope has proved indispensable in charting the innumerable galaxies, planets, stars, and solar systems spread throughout the universe. Advancing with technological innovation and quite literally shedding light into unknown parts of outer space, the James Webb Telescope, like the Hubble before it, affords glimpses into the sprawling, captivating magnificence of the cosmos.

A product of a multinational collaboration between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), the Webb Telescope has begun reaping huge returns, already furthering knowledge about the universe in the short time since it launched on December 25, 2021. The following shots from Webb offer an inkling of the beauty and grandeur lying in the farthest reaches of space.


Cartwheel ESO 350-40

In this brilliant composite image from Webb, viewers are treated to a spectacular view of the Cartwheel Galaxy located in the Sculptor constellation. Equipped with a Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) for taking images beyond the standard visibility spectrum for humans, Webb captures this celestial masterpiece birthed from a high-speed cosmic collision.

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Located in a galaxy that NASA indicates originated about 400 million years ago, this colorful shot clearly shows the inner magnificence of the Cartwheel, complete with the internal “arms” of hydrocarbon-rich dust coming out from its galactic core, indicated in red. Notably, this shot illustrates the explosive nature of time and space, the impact such collisions will have on the formation of new galaxies in the foreseeable future, and the awe-inspiring beauty of our vast cosmos.

Jupiter I

Webb delivers this stunning shot of the big red giant Jupiter, proving beauty lies within this solar system. With the help of civilian scientist Judy Schmidt, Webb captures this highly detailed and starkly different, compared to Hubble, variant of the sanguine giant.

Captured in MIRI and HIRCam, viewers are treated to the suddenly azure planet, exhibiting the same Borealis effect experienced here on Earth. Ultimately, rendering the red behemoth of the cosmic neighborhood as a serene, soothing celestial body sharing similar atmospheric interactions with Earth marks this shot a Webb best.

SMACS 0723 Cluster

Offering the most profound, most detailed shot of the universe to date, Webb’s first Deep Field shot of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 hints at the sheer vastness of space. Unveiled by President Biden during a White House Event on July 11, this NIRCam image shows thousands of galaxies, representing the faintest objects ever observed in infrared.

Webb’s capabilities allow scientists to look at this galaxy as it was 4.6 billion years ago, showing star clusters and diffuse features never before seen and putting this one-of-a-kind shot into perspective. In addition, with the sharp focus of Webb’s lenses, NASA hopes to give scientists a glimpse into a period within a billion years after the Big Bang at some of the first star formations, bringing into focus structures in extremely distant galaxies to deliver a Webb best.

Exoplanet HIP 65426 b

A truly historic moment courtesy of Webb and its arsenal of mid and near-infrared visual instrumentation is this shot of intergalactic Exoplanet HIP 65426 B. First discovered by the SPHERE consortium in 2017, this shot marks the first time a direct image of a planet outside our solar system has been taken. This unforgettable moment will be cataloged forever in the scientific space community, perhaps one day even adding to Netflix’s burgeoning space documentary collection.

Indeed, not the most visually stunning of Webb’s shots thus far, it’s nonetheless a shot that alludes to the possibilities for future planetary discoveries that loom on the horizon and whispers to the adventurer in us all.

Southern Ring Nebula

This vivid shot by Webb in NIRCam expertly captures the partnership of two sun-like stars. As the fainter dying sun evolves into a white dwarf, it spews forth the clouds of dust and gas that radiate outwards from the center.

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This uniquely shaped planetary Nebula tagged NGC-3132 extends outward to cover an area roughly a light year in diameter. A must-see from Webb projects visually to conjure imagery of an inferno circle of flames surrounding the fierce white-blue center, almost pulsating with the energy of the stars.

Orion Nebula

A more recent jaw-dropping shot from Webb is this look into the stellar nursery of the Orion Nebula, also known as Messier-42. Again, wisely capitalizing on Webb’s ability to see in the infrared light spectrum (like famed sci-fi antagonist Predator) allows it to penetrate large clouds of dust and gas that Hubble could not see through.

This upgrade allowed Webb this stunning shot that will help scientists shed light on the early formative years of the Milky Way Galaxy. Notably depicting proplyds, this top-notch image distinguishes Webb from its predecessor and gives viewers a taste of its prodigious photographic abilities.

Stephan’s Quintet

Superbly humbling shot of Stevens quintet, an amalgam of 5 galaxies, captured in gorgeous clarity thanks to Webb. Also known as NGC-92, this quintet will give scientists a front-row seat to merging multiple galaxies and shed valuable light on how galaxies interact.

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Combined, the facets of galactic evolution gleaned from NGC-92 serve to expand human knowledge of the universe exponentially. But, overall, the most memorable part of the shot is the cosmic shock waves of dust and gas seen in rustic red as the NGC-7318B galaxy forces its way into the cluster and telescopic history.

Carina Nebula

This previously unseen slice of the Carina Nebula, captured in exquisite detail by webs NIRCam, invokes feelings of gigantic rocky mountains contrasted sharply by the bright blue starry sky. Created from intense ultraviolet radiation from energetic newly created stars, NGC-3324 demonstrates the effects as hot ionized gas is released and carried by the robust solar winds into the stellar medium.

This cosmic portrait feels oddly familiar in one of Webb’s original shots.

Tarantula Nebula

Captivating with the ‘spiderwebs’ sprinkled throughout is this composite shot of the Tarantula Nebula, brought to viewers by Webb and its NIRCam. Also known as NGC-2070, this shot gave scientists a new view of numerous budding stars coalescing and further detail on the Galaxy carving out its space within this Nebula.

Located in the Dorado constellation, this shot covers a span of roughly 340 light-years across, gifting onlookers a picturesque mosaic capturing the inner workings of this emission Galaxy. Watching new stars wrest away the vital red-orange hydrocarbons needed for formation, carving out pockets within the Magellanic cloud is a wonder to behold.

Phantom Galaxy

This fantastic shot of the spiraling Phantom Galaxy is Rendered in stunning detail, taken by Webb in MIRI. This shot adroitly captures the almost symmetrical spiraling masses of dust and gas, slowly being eaten away by pinkish clusters of star-forming regions.

Often compared alongside the Hubble image of the same Galaxy, Webb again captures the imagination by revealing the M74 Galaxy in unmatched clarity. This shot concisely captures the densely packed cluster of stars at this Galaxy’s core, forming its glowing blue cosmic heart, Showing even more star formations previously unseen.

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