The James Webb Telescope recently revealed the first photo of thousands of galaxies in the clearest image ever taken of our universe. On Monday, July 11 Nasa announced the photo was of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723.

The light from these galaxies has taken 4.6 billion years to reach the space telescope which captured the image in 12.5 hours, the same photo would have taken the Hubble telescope weeks to capture at less than half the quality. The area of the universe captured by the Webb is comparable to the size of a grain of sand. This puts into perspective just how big our universe really is.

Floating a million miles away from Earth, the image captured by the Webb has given researchers insight into galaxy masses, ages, history, and composition including surrounding space dust. Space dust is a major ingredient in star formation. The blue galaxies contain stars but little to no dust, red or orange galaxies are enveloped in space dust, and green galaxies are made up of hydrocarbon and other chemicals. These chemicals allow scientists to understand how galaxies are created, merge with each other, and in some cases stop creating stars completely.

The Webb is also equipped with a component called a Near-Infrared Spectrograph which obtains spectra, a fancy way of capturing light, which contains data of physical and chemical properties that help scientists understand the galaxies that are shown in the photo.

This is a large step toward understanding our universe and how life is created on a chemical level. It's exciting to imagine the possibilities that this new technology can bring to humanity.