DENVER — Nature and science have always given us much to wonder about. Now, the prospect of what exists in deep space is unfathomable, even to leading scientists.
“I’m blown away by these recent images,” said Ka Chun Yu, curator of space and science at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
“It just makes me feel very insignificant in the universe,” said Kristin Setzer, who was at the museum with her 12-year-old daughter, Autumn. “That is pretty mind-blowing.”
“It just looks like somebody drew a bunch of glitter, but it’s real space so it’s cool,” Autumn Setzer said.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science hosted a watch party Tuesday for the debut of the remarkable images from the James Webb Space Telescope, which was partially developed in Colorado.
“It’s really just incredible that we’re looking far back into the distant universe, back in time,” Yu said. “Probably tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of galaxies. They say what you’re seeing is basically the equivalent to a spec of sand that you’re holding at arm’s length. And so that’s how much of the sky you’re looking at.”
“What more can we find?” said Calvin Pennamon, director of operational exploitation systems for Northrup Grumman, which helped develop the James Webb telescope and much of its components.
“Some of this technology was developed here in Colorado,” Pennamon continued. “Ball Aerospace did the beryllium mirrors. This is all cutting edge, and it’s sitting further out than the moon. The largest telescope in space.”
The images are much crisper and clearer than those from the Hubble telescope. Scientists say the Webb images were taken in just one day – offering a unique window into the future and the past.
“We are literally seeing backwards in time,” Yu said.
“They’re thinking that we’re peering over 13 billion years back in time,” Pennamon said.
“We’re seeing tens of thousands of galaxies, and each of those galaxies has tens of billions of stars,” Yu said. “So you can imagine, so many stars with lots of planets on those stars. So whether there’s life or not, we don’t quite know. You can definitely make the case.”
“If you can find a planet that has a similar atmosphere to Earth, then that means you have the possibility of life,” Pennamon said.
“That’s what’s unbelievable to me,” Setzer said.
To view the full gallery of photos, click here.