1. brightmoon says

    I used to leave pictures from the Hubble on my desk at work. Everybody would come around to look at them.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Space spiders? Nooo, now you have reminded me of the crappy Canadian SF TV series LEXXX. I need brain bleach ro get it out.

    BTW ln an episode of Blake’s Seven there was bioorganic stuff creating interplanetary strings of enormous tensile strength- this was a problem for the ship because even if they vaporised the strings new ones floated in the way faster than they could recharge the gun.
    (The various bioorganic things were created by a group of Cally’s people that had been exiled for unethical science practices)

  3. birgerjohansson says

    Zombie Stanislaw Lem would look at the nebula and wonder “can self-replicating microrobots harvest the mass to create AIs without the tedious detour through star systems and planets?”.

  4. StevoR says

    They keep throwing these images at us, I’m happily going to try and catch them all and loving it here. A great day for astronomy and astronomers even if slightly blotted by the failure to give the succesor to the HST a proper non-homiophobic bigot glorifying name

  5. birgerjohansson says

    (Blake’s Seven was a surprisingly good British TV series your parents watched)

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Does JWST have the equipment to block out light from a star to observe planets in the star system? Or will that require a dedicated space telescope?

  7. Ed Seedhouse says

    @7: “Does JWST have the equipment to block out light from a star to observe planets in the star system? Or will that require a dedicated space telescope?”

    Yes it does as a matter of fact.

  8. cartomancer says

    Just wait for the reddish-brown mass of egg sacs in the lower half of the picture to hatch out, you’ll have plenty of space spiders then.

  9. StevoR says

    The first 5 images from the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope have now been released including the Carina nebula’s “Cosmic Cliffs”, the atmosphere of Hot Jupiter WASP96b, The Southern Ring Nebula (NGC 3132) and Stephan’s Quintet of galaxies. All available for viewing via official page here :

    They’ve got more there via the official site too including the press release fro these. Incidentally the exoplanet WASP96 b is about half Jove’s mass but orbits its G type star in just 3 days.

  10. consciousness razor says

    I don’t think it has anything to block the light like that, other than the big sunshield, which is basically for light and heat from the Sun or other nearby sources in our solar system, not things in nearly the same direction as more distant targets.

    At least in the case of the exoplanet they just released data on, they watched it transit the star, which of course requires seeing it.

  11. joeeggen says

    consciousness razor @12

    At least two of the instruments on JWST have coronagraphs, the purpose of which is to block the light of very bright objects in/near the field of view of fainter science targets:

    You are correct about the exoplanet data that they released today, however. That exoplanet is far too close to its parent star for JWST to ever resolve them separately.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    Going back in time…
    The Rolling Stones played in Brussels yesterday. This year they celebrate 60 years as a band.
    I suspect they must be some kind of aliens.

  13. wzrd1 says

    There’s a nice quintuple galaxy image. From the look of it, all of them have been playing bumper cars.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    A telescope concept for the future is a space telescope flying in formation with a starshade at a distance of several thousand km.
    That would enable the observation of planets without light from the nearby stars to interfere with the image.
    Achieving the necessary precision at those distances between spacecraft is a non-trivial task.

  15. consciousness razor says

    joeeggen, #15:
    Oh, I missed that, thanks. I’m guessing that transits are probably the way to go (most of the time?) for observing exoplanets. Anyway, they of course want to put it to use for all sorts of things, so I should’ve figured.

  16. birgerjohansson says

    Holy fucking shit.
    A former member of the Swedish xenophobe party just got sentenced for killing and dismembering a guy.
    That is almost -but not quute- GOP- level shenagians.

  17. CorporalKlinger says

    @22 Chris L.

    What the f… is that? Obviously, some 70s TV show, but I’ve never heard about it.

  18. René says

    Allow me to thank you all, nobody in particular, but it is almost always a joy to read PZ and the commentariat: I always seem to learn something new here. Kudos.
    BTW, I think the BBC does a good job of explaining the importance and the workings of the [REDACTED] Space Telescope. (In the /news section.)
    (There was a third point I wanted to add, but I forgot.)

  19. silvrhalide says

    Space spiders? Check Mars, ask Ziggy.

    That is a stunning image though. Money well spent! (For all the whiners who will complain about spending money on any space program.)

    “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.”-Oscar Wilde

  20. bcw bcw says

    One piece of information that seems hard to find is how the visual images are mapped from the original infrared data. Remember, Webb doesn’t see in the visible at all, it looks at infrared and far infrared wavelengths. These are then mapped in some way to get visible color images. The reason this is needed is that the objects it’s looking at are moving away so rapidly that visible wavelength are doppler down-shifted into the infrared. I don’t know if they just map it all up by the Doppler shift for the speed of the object or whether these are more just optimized for maximum visibility. Are these images what would be seen with no relative motion between telescope and objects? I don’t know. They may also represent a wider wavelength range, compressed with false color to maximize the amount of information.

    Does anyone know what is actually done?

  21. René says

    @24. I now remember. On the Dutch telly, a university professor was ‘explaining’ that the pictures show phenomena so old that they show the situation of a very young universe. I doubt phrasing it like that is in any way helping.
    Also, I think an explanation needs to be given as to how it is possible that light emanating from the beginning has taken so damned long to reach us. My head explodes thinking about it. But, yeah, I know, inflation. I just don’t grok it.

  22. Rob Grigjanis says

    René @28: Because light so easily interacts with charged particles, there was no light traveling very far until the temperature of the universe dropped enough to allow electrons and protons to form electrically neutral bound states (hydrogen atoms). That was a few hundred thousand years (call it T) after the Big Bang and the subsequent, and very short-lived, inflation. That’s the time T at which the CMB photons we observe started their journeys. But even after inflation, the universe continued to expand, though much slower.

    The CMB photons we see have been traveling for 13.7 billion years, but because of expansion since T, the current radius of the observable universe is about 46.5 billion light years.

  23. silvrhalide says

    @27 6 limbs do not Insecta make. Insufficient legs, thoracic or otherwise, for Decapoda, which is what it really resembles. Def not enough legs for Arachnida. Also, the most posterior appendages (?) don’t really look like legs… ;D

  24. Ridana says

    @ mandrake: with an image of Jesus on it?

    Actually, I don’t see toast, but in the full-sized image I do see an eye peering out above the white star in the lower left quadrant, immediately down and left from the yellow star. Just observing. At least it doesn’t look angry. :)

  25. joeeggen says

    bcw bcw @26: The images are false-color and otherwise manipulated to enhance features so that they are easier to see or more pleasing to look at. Images like the new Deep Field (as one example) are taken with one of Webb’s imaging instruments, such as NIRCam (tech specs here: This instrument features 9 broadband filters that cover the infrared range. For multi-color images such as the ones shown yesterday several different images will be taken, each with a different filter placed in the optical path of the instrument. Then in post-processing the individual filter images will be assigned a color and combined to make the final full-color images that you see. It is very much an iterative process, however. The color, hue, brightness, etc. of each monochrome image will be modified repeatedly until the desired aesthetic is achieved. Normally the colors chosen will map ~logically~ to those in the visible part of the spectrum: bluer for shorter wavelengths & redder for longer wavelengths.

    Most of the targets in these images are not far enough away for cosmic redshift to alter their emissions to such a degree that visible light would be redshifted into the IR. However, the galaxies in the Deep Field image (and distant background galaxies in many of the others) would experience this.

    It’s worth noting that science images are not typically manipulated to the degree that we see in the images released yesterday. However, there is almost always a great deal of post-processing done to remove instrument artifacts and/or enhance the detail of some feature that is of interest to the researcher manipulating the data.

  26. birgerjohansson says

    Godzilla films have giant spidery things and space aliens but not alien spiders, alas.
    Facehuggers are spidery, but they are not an adult form.
    It is good MST3K managed to find this noble alien morphology.