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James Webb Space Telescope

Webb is the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It studies every phase in the history of our Universe.

Active Mission

Webb studies every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System. Webb launched on Dec. 25th 2021. It does not orbit around the Earth like the Hubble Space Telescope, it orbits the Sun 1.5 million kilometers (1 million miles) away from the Earth at what is called the second Lagrange point or L2. 

Mission Type





Dec 25, 2021

Arrival at L2

Jan 24, 2022

Key Facts

This image is from Webb’s NIRCam instrument, which saw this nebula in the near-infrared.

extending the tantalizing discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Engineers Prep James Webb Telescope for Integration

So big it has to fold origami-style to fit in the rocket and will unfold like a “Transformer” in space.

Webb Lagrange Points

Webb orbits the Sun 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth. (Hubble orbits 560 kilometers above the Earth.)

NASA’s Webb Sunshield Successfully Unfolds and Tensions in Final Tests

Webb has a 5-layer sunshield that protects the telescope from the infrared radiation of the Sun, Earth, and Moon; like having sun protection of SPF 1 million.

The image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago

iIt will peer back in time over 13.5 billion years to see the first galaxies born after the Big the ISS.

A team of astronomers has used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to survey the starburst galaxy Messier 82 (M82). Located 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major, this galaxy is relatively compact in size but hosts a frenzy of star formation activity. For comparison, M82 is sprouting new stars 10 times faster than the Milky Way galaxy.

Left: Messier 82 as imaged by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Hour-glass-shaped red plumes of gas are shooting outward from above and below a bright blue, disk-shaped center of a galaxy. This galaxy is surrounded by many white stars and set against the black background of space. A small square highlights the section that the image on the right shows in greater detail. White text at bottom reads "Hubble." Right: A section of Messier 82 as imaged by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. An edge-on spiral starburst galaxy with a bright white, glowing core set against the black background of space. A white band of the edge-on disk extends from lower left to upper right. Dark brown tendrils of dust are scattered thinly along this band. Many white points in various sizes – stars or star clusters – are scattered throughout the image, but are most heavily concentrated toward the center. Many clumpy, red filaments extend vertically above and below the galaxy’s plane. White text at bottom reads "Webb."
On the left is the starburst galaxy M82 as observed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 2006. The small box at the galaxy’s core corresponds to the area captured so far by the NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. The red filaments as seen by Webb are the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emission, which traces the shape of the galactic wind. In the Hubble image, light at .814 microns is colored red, .658 microns is red-orange, .555 microns is green, and .435 microns is blue (filters F814W, F658N, F555W, and F435W, respectively). In the Webb image, light at 3.35 microns is colored red, 2.50 microns is green, and 1.64 microns is blue (filters F335M, F250M, and F164N, respectively).
NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, A. Bolatto (University of Maryland)

Latest News

Webb's latest news releases in reverse chronological order.

NASA’s Webb Probes an Extreme Starburst Galaxy

Amid a site teeming with new and young stars lies an intricate substructure. A team of astronomers has used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to survey the starburst galaxy Messier 82 (M82). Located 12 million light-years away in the constellation…

That Starry Night Sky? It’s Full of Eclipses

Our star, the Sun, on occasion joins forces with the Moon to offer us Earthlings a spectacular solar eclipse – like the one that will be visible to parts of the United States, Mexico, and Canada on April 8. But…

Cheers! NASA’s Webb Finds Ethanol, Other Icy Ingredients for Worlds

Editor’s Note: This article was updated March 13, 2024, to clarify the likelihood that chemicals found around IRAS 2A were present in the first stages of development of our solar system. What do margaritas, vinegar, and ant stings have in…

NASA’s Roman Team Selects Survey to Map Our Galaxy’s Far Side

NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope team has announced plans for an unprecedented survey of the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. It will peer deeper into this region than any other survey, mapping more of our galaxy’s stars than…


Latest 2024 Images

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A duo of starbursts in I Zwicky 18
Featured Story

Webb Celebrates First Year of Science With Close-up on Birth of Sun-like Stars

From our cosmic backyard in the solar system to distant galaxies near the dawn of time, NASA’s James Webb Space…

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