Josh Abel/ Edge columnist

With the launching of the Hubble telescope in 1989, scientists hoped to find a deeper understanding of the universe. It observed stars and galaxies while measuring the exact age of our universe. After over 30 years of pictures sent back from the telescope, Nasa is going to launch a telescope that can answer the questions brought on by Hubble’s discoveries. The creation of the James Webb Telescope started in 1996, it has taken this long because of the lack of inventions. It is scheduled to launch in October of this year.

Most of the things needed for the construction of the Webb telescope had not been invented yet. An enormous sunshield is necessary to keep the telescope at an extremely low temperature. Wavelength sensors that could operate at cryogenic temperatures had to be developed. Webb will observe things primarily in the infrared range which will be one of the advantages over Hubble. Stars and planets are covered behind enormous clouds of dust when they first start to form, according to Nasa’s HubbleSite information website on stars, nebulas and the night sky. Hubble can see the clouds but is not able to view what is happening behind them. Webb will have the advantage of Infrared light which will show much more of what is going on behind the clouds.

The Webb telescope won’t be the first infrared Telescope in space, although none of the previous telescopes will have the viewing ability that Webb will have. The resolution of a telescope is limited by the number of wavelengths that can fit across its mirror. The bigger the mirror the higher the resolution, Hubble’s mirror is 2.4metres while Webb will have a mirror of 6.5metres wide. This mirror will give the telescope an insanely precise resolution that will help to see even the most distant galaxies and planets in our universe.

One of if not the most impressive thing, James Webb will be able to view and see the most “Earth -like” planets out there. Webb will do this by fixating on a single star that is known to have planets orbiting it. Webb will be able to determine the size of the planet and what the planet is constructed of by measuring wavelengths. This will help us to not only find other planets in near galaxies but to find other planets that might be habitable. 

This telescope will open up so many new avenues for study, and we will be able to study new planets we have never seen before. Mankind will finally be able to break through the limitations of Hubble’s technology. The James Webb telescope will allow insight on how the first planets in our galaxy started to form together. Webb is not the replacement for Hubble, it is Hubble’s successor. We can finally start to see some of the things surrounding Hubble’s photos that we could never see before. We can really start to find the answers to questions we have been asking for decades.


James Webb Telescope FAQ, NASA

The Power Of The James Webb Telescope, Primal Space

Webb vs Hubble Telescope, NASA

Hubblesite Information Stars and Nebulas, NASA