The Webb Telescope’s ultra-low temperature camera is now ready for use

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The Webb Telescope’s ultra-low temperature camera is now ready for use

According to the teams in charge of James Webb Space Telescopethe second scientific instrument among the 4 installed on the telescope is now operational. The instrument in question is called MIRI or Mid-Infrared instrument, and it consists of two elements. The first is a camera which analyzes the Universe in mid-infrared wavelengths, and the second is a spectrograph which can capture the spectrum of light emitted by stars and galaxies. These spectra make it possible to determine the chemical composition of the latter.

According to information, the MIRI instrument can operate in 4 modes. This allows him to focus on different aspects of the objects studied. MIRI’s tests ended with the verification of the coronagraphic imaging mode. This mode allows astronomers to mask the star to see only the bright area of ​​its atmosphere called the corona. It is in the corona that the Webb telescope can detect exoplanets around stars.

James Webb Space Telescope

Gillian Wright, European Principal Investigator in charge of MIRI, said they were delighted that MIRI is now a working state-of-the-art instrument with performance that exceeds expectations.

Extremely low temperature

The MIRI instrument was developed by the NASAin collaboration with ESA and other scientific institutions across Europe and America. Of all the instruments installed on the Webb Telescope, this is the one that requires the lowest temperature in order to function properly.

In order to satisfy the needs of MIRI and other instruments, it was necessary to lower the temperature of Webb down to -223°C using the sun shield. As the telescope studies the Universe in the infrared range, any heat source can create sensor errors which are very sensitive.

The MIRI instrument in particular requires an even lower temperature than other instruments. This temperature should be -266°C. 7°C less and it will be the absolute zero, a state in which the movement of atoms stops.

To be able to reach its operating temperature, MIRI has been equipped with electric cryogenic coolers.

The other instruments

The Webb teams recently concluded that the instrument FGS/NIRISS was now operational. FGS/NIRISS stands for Fine Guidance Sensor/Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph.

For the moment, there is still work to be done on the NIRCAM or Near Infrared Camera, and the NIRSpec or Near InfraRed Spectrograph. The first will allow the oldest and most distant galaxies to be seen, while the second is a powerful spectrograph capable of simultaneously recording the spectra of up to 100 galaxies.


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