Webb Telescope images are dazzling social media, especially the Galaxy Cluster Shot

Topline

The long-awaited first images from the James Webb Telescope captivated American audiences this week, with a photo of a distant galaxy cluster making the top posts on Facebook and Twitter, breaking away from the divisive political posts that tend to dominate platforms. .

Highlights

NASA released the two major U.S.-based Facebook posts this week, led by Monday’s release of what the space agency called “the deepest, sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. day”, showing thousands of galaxies.

That post garnered more than 940,000 interactions, across more than 680,000 reactions, around 242,000 shares and around 19,000 comments, according to data compiled by social media tracking firm NewsWhip.

NASA followed up on Tuesday with a post featuring a series of additional shots, led by an image of “Cosmic Cliffs” showing stars forming in a gargantuan cloud of dust, which attracted more than 750,000 interactions.

The photo of the galaxy cluster also topped Twitter this week, albeit in the form of a joke: @psa10memes shared a side-by-side image juxtaposing the glowing photo of distant galaxies light years away with images of allegedly grainy security cameras, attracting over 1.1 million likes. and over 126,000 retweets.

Key Context

President Joe Biden unveiled the photo of the galaxy cluster at a White House event on Monday, touting the image as a signal to the “American people – especially our children – that there is no nothing beyond our capabilities”. The image shows the SMACS 0723 cluster as it looked 4.6 billion years ago, as that is how long it took for the light captured in the image to reach the Webb telescope. The first images are the culmination of about two decades of work to develop the $10 billion telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990. The Webb Telescope has enough fuel on board to keep taking pictures for 20 years, according to NASA.

Large number

13.1 billion years old. This is the age of the oldest light captured in the image of the galaxy cluster, according to NASA, from a galaxy that appears as a small red dot. Astronomers believe the universe was less than a billion years old when the light was emitted.

Further reading

NASA releases the first vivid image from space of the James Webb Telescope (Forbes)

NASA reveals more stunning images of the universe from the James Webb Telescope (Forbes)

Ben Shapiro applauds Florida math textbook ban topping Facebook this week (Forbes)