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In addition to providing new information about objects like exoplanets and providing new views of some of the world’s most famous scenes, the James Webb Space Telescope is also used to observe large swathes of the sky in large-scale surveys. Researchers from one of the Webb-like studies, called Prime Extragalactic Areas for Reionization and Lensing Science, or PEARLS, recently published their first results, showing an area of ​​the sky called the North Ecliptic Pole.

This image shows about 2% of the sky as captured by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, and the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Survey Camera. This is just one part of the PEARLS survey, but it shows thousands of galaxies, including extremely distant ones. You can see a zoom version of the image on the Webb website.

A patch of sky measuring 2% of the area covered by the full moon was imaged by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) with eight filters, as well as Hubble’s Advanced Camera for the Survey (ACS) and Wide-Field Camera 3 (WFC3). : three filters that together cover the wavelength range of 0.25 to 5 microns. This image represents a portion of the entire PEARLS field, which will be about four times larger. NASA, ESA, CSA, A. Pagan (STScI) & R. Jansen (ASU). SCIENCE: R. Jansen, J. Summers, R. O’Brien and R. Windhorst (Arizona State University); A. Robotham (ICRAR/UWA); A. Koekemoer (STScI); C. Willmer (UofA); and the PEARLS team.

“For more than two decades, I have worked with a large international team of scientists to prepare our Webb science program,” lead study author Roger Windhorst of Arizona State University said in a statement. “The web images are truly phenomenal, truly beyond my wildest dreams. They allow us to measure the number density of galaxies that shine down to the very faint infrared limit and the total amount of light they produce. This light is much fainter than the very dark infrared sky measured between those galaxies.”

Some of the interesting features being studied by the PEARLS survey include accretion disks that form around supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies, a pair of overlapping galaxies called the VV 191 galaxy system, and some very old galaxies at very high redshift; whose light travels for almost 13.5 billion years.

“I was blown away by the first PEARLS pictures,” says co-author Rolf Jansen. “Little did I know when I chose this field near the North Arctic Pole that it would yield a treasure trove of distant galaxies, and that we would get direct insights into the processes of galaxy assembly and growth. I see streams, tails, shells, and halos of stars at their edges, the remains of their building blocks.”

The research is published in The Astronomical Journal.

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