Lancaster University: Lancaster scientists present first ever colour images from space telescope

Hundreds of people gathered at the Winter Gardens in Morecambe to witness Lancaster University’s unveiling of historic images from the $10bn James Webb Space Telescope.

Scientists from Lancaster University presented images from the dawn of the Universe at a public event which was one of only a handful in the UK selected by the European Space Agency to showcase the historic release of data.

Tickets were sold out for the event, which attracted a local audience to see the release of the first ever colour images captured by the JWST from within a few hundred million years following the Big Bang.

Dr Julie Wardlow from Lancaster University’s Department of Physics said the event had been hugely popular.

“It was great to be able to share the joy of seeing the new images with so many enthusiastic people. We were overwhelmed with interest in the event, which shows just how much passion for space and technology there is in the UK.”

The images were live streamed straight form NASA and ESA onto a projector on the main stage. These were imported in real time into the University’s planetarium dome so visitors could see the images in a fully immersive experience.

The team now hopes to exhibit the historic images locally at places such as libraries, tourist information centres and community centres. They will also be included in some of the touring LUniverse planetarium shows which visit local schools and community events.

Orbiting a million miles from Earth, the James Webb Telescope has an ambitious mission to peer back in time within a mere 100-200 million years after the Big Bang.

Equipped with a 6.5m-wide (21ft) golden mirror and four super-sensitive instruments, Webb will be able to detect light that has been travelling through space for more than 13.5 billion years.

Launched last year and a hundred times more powerful than the Hubble space telescope, the James Webb mainly views the cosmos in the infrared spectrum, allowing it to gaze through clouds of gas and dust where stars are being born.

It will study every phase in the history of the Universe, from soon after the Big Bang to the evolution of our own Solar System.

In addition to imagery, Webb will capture spectroscopic data — detailed information astronomers can read in light – and will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide.