The James Webb Space Telescope has completed the first major phase of its long process of aligning the 18-segment main observatory mirror.
Alone star that the observatory in question was intentionally transferred 18 times to a hexagonal shape. In the end, these 18 images will be perfectly aligned into one, sharp focus, but the intermediate result reflects a star that is perfectly repeated in a hexagonal pattern that resembles a stunning celestial snowflake.
“The resulting image shows that the team moved each of the 18 major mirror segments of the Web to bring 18 unfocused copies of a single star into a planned hexagonal formation,” wrote NASA officials. blog post Friday (February 18).
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The images of the stars will go into this particular pattern, “so they have the same placement as the physical mirrors,” said Matthew Lala, a systems scientist and head of the telescope department at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which manages Webb.
Next, the observatory will begin what engineers call “segment alignment,” which will correct any major positioning errors in individual segments of the primary mirror and update the alignment of the secondary mirror.
After successfully aligning the segments, the team will begin the third phase – “image stacking” – which will eventually bring 18 images together on one clear view.
Lala said the three-phase procedure would allow the team to experience “an intuitive and natural way to visualize change” throughout the process. Another advantage, he added, is that “we can now observe how the main mirror is slowly taking on its exact intended shape.”
Proper alignment of mirrors is the main goal of Webb’s commissioning, which is expected to be completed in the summer. The mission was launched on December 25, 2021 with an ambitious mission to look at the early universe, exoplanets and other interesting places in space.
https://www.space.com/james-webb-space-telescope-hexagonal-star-image The star will shine 18 times in the new image of the James Webb Space Telescope