We already have the first fully focused photo taken by the James Webb. And all thanks to a “selfie”

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The James Webb Space Telescope is not just meeting but exceeding expectations. It did so on its super efficient launch and also on arrival at L2 orbit. Now this preparing your imaging systemsand has just completed a singular milestone.

On March 11, the alignment stage known as “fine calibration” concluded, and thanks to it it has already been possible to capture a perfectly focused star. Not only that: the James Webb also captures stars around her, as expected. The star’s diffraction spikes, by the way, are not an error: they confirm that the 18 segments of the main mirror are perfectly aligned.

a very special selfie

This unique $10 billion space observatory continues to deliver fantastic news, proving that this colossal project that has been over 20 years in the making is living up to all expectations.

Selfie Webb

This unique selfie allows the James Webb to complete the alignment process.

NASA engineers indicate that the detailed analysis of the images that have begun to arrive is making it clear that the behavior of the James Webb Space Telescope “is as good or better than we expected in our most optimistic predictions.

After the previous alignment processes with the so-called ‘Image Stacking’ and ‘Coarse Phasing’, now it was time to perfectly adjust the focus using a blurring method similar to the one already applied in the alignment of the segments.

However, on this occasion the secondary mirror is not used, but various optical elements are used with which capture out of focus images that allow to detect alignment errors.

This is how the James Webb Space Telescope is going to change the way we see the universe

To correct alignment errors, the so-called pupil imaging lens (PIL) is used, which is part of the NIRcam and which allows capturing an image of the main mirror of the telescope, something that is essentially a “selfie”.

That selfie is key to solving the mathematical problem of alignment that involves making use of Fourier analysis and that allows each optical element to behave perfectly.

The result? The capture of a perfectly focused image of a star called 2MASS J17554042+6551277 was suitable for this phase of testing.

All this prepares us for the final phase of all this preparation, in which the telescope will have to be aligned with the rest of the scientific instruments on James Webb. The first images of real observations they will arrive this summer.

More information | POT

The James Webb Space Telescope is not just meeting but exceeding expectations. It did so on its super efficient launch…

The James Webb Space Telescope is not just meeting but exceeding expectations. It did so on its super efficient launch…

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