The first full-color images from the James Webb Space Telescope were released in a livestream Tuesday morning.
A watch party was hosted in the Hiler Theater in WALC, where the images from the telescope were projected onto large screens.
As the seconds ticked down to the reveal, two graduate students who organized the watch party were jumping in anticipation, and almost every one of the 20 people in the auditorium were leaning forward in their seats.
The first five full-color images were of the Carina nebula, WASP-96b, the Southern Ring Nebula, Stephan's Quintet and SMACS 0723.
As each of the images was shown, whistles and "wows" came from everyone gathered to watch.
Michelle Thaller, the host of NASA’s livestream from its Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, told viewers: “Many are gathered around the world to watch this event.”
To which Danny Milisavljevic responded enthusiastically from the audience: “Yeah, like here!”
Milisavljevic, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, brought together a team of 40 scientists across the world, according to previous Exponent reporting, to prepare a proposal to investigate Cassiopeia A, a supernova remnant in the constellation Cassiopeia, using the Webb telescope.
“I thought we would be stronger as a team to go in together,” he said in a previous Exponent report. “It’s the broadest base of interdisciplinary scientists you could dream of.
“Our Webb program is targeting the debris field of a supernova explosion. It’s kind of like doing an autopsy on a star that exploded about 340 years ago. This specific supernova remnant is the best example we have of an exploded star to analyze in this way.”
With the release of the first images, Milisavljevic is closer to his team’s dreams than ever before.
“I actually just got an email this morning,” Milisavljevic said, the proposal is "locked in the schedule. We should get the images in about two weeks.”
The images released today show the power of the James Webb telescope compared to previous space telescopes, like the Hubble.
The clarity of the images gives much more information than we previously had, Milisavljevic said. “The images pushed the envelope of my ability to understand what I was seeing.”
The Hubble space telescope's famous deep-field images took weeks, according to NASA’s website. The James Webb telescope took its image of the SMACS 0723 galaxy cluster in just over 12 hours of exposure.
It’s important to compare the images to previous ones, said Bhagya Subrayan, a graduate student in physics and astronomy. That’s what they will talk more about at 6 p.m. Thursday, with a panel of five to 10 experts discussing each image from the James Webb telescope. The panel will include several Purdue professors and graduate students.
It will be at the Hiler Theater in WALC and will be livestreamed. The link for the livestream and more information can be found on the Purdue physics and astronomy linktree: linktr.ee/purduephysastro.