James Webb and Hubble, the comparison between the images of the two telescopes


We waited for them, these first lights of James Webb, for over 20 years. In fact, we started talking about this telescope already shortly after the launch of Hubblein the 90s, and the very first project envisaged a launch even in the distant past 2007. For many different reasons, some of a scientific-engineering nature and others of a purely economic nature, the launch of the space telescope was postponed until last Christmas 2021. In the following months the mission team was busy taking care of the alignment of the 18 segments hexagonal elements that make up the main mirror of the telescope and to prepare its 4 scientific instruments: Nircam, Nirspec, Miri And Niriss, which can operate in 17 different modes. These instruments work in infrared, covering a range of wavelengths between 0.6 ei 27 micrometers (the visible, what our eyes are sensitive to, is between 0.4 and 0.7 micrometers). This detail, the frequencies studied by the instrument, make the scientific contents and the images that the instrument will produce very different from those we are used to with Hubble. In fact, Hubble mostly works in visible light, which however has the disadvantage of being blind to many processes occurring in the universe, such as those hidden by interstellar dust. Anyway, with the first four images released by the mission team, the comparison in the level of detail obtained from the two instruments is merciless: the James Webb has maintained and perhaps exceeded all expectations.

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