NASA names first five targets for Webb images

Enlarge (credit: Hubble Heritage Team)

On Friday, NASA continued to build the hype for next week’s image release from the Webb Space Telescope by announcing the five objects that will be in the first cache of images. A few of the targets are exactly what you’d expect, given what scientists have said they want to use the telescope to image, while a couple have likely been chosen simply because they’ll produce some fantastic visuals.

The target list also shows NASA’s thoughts about how it can get informative data as quickly as possible. We’ll give a little background on each of the targets below.

WASP-96 b: One of the most exciting features of Webb is its ability to analyze the composition of the atmospheres of exoplanets. When a planet passes between its host star and Earth, some of the star’s light will pass through its atmosphere, allowing the materials in the atmosphere to absorb specific wavelengths in the star’s light. This signal is tiny since only a small fraction of the star’s light will pass through the atmosphere, so it will typically take months of observations to get a good signal.

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