Why the Webb Space Telescope promises to revolutionize astronomy

DECRYPTION – Designed to detect the first rays of the Universe, its field of action promises to be much wider.

For astronomy enthusiasts, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or Webb for close friends) is almost legendary. Monumental by its size (that of a tennis court) and its complexity (folded like an origami, it will take more than 13 days to deploy), this space observatory must be launched this Friday, December 24 by an Ariane 5 from Kourou in Guyana. The machine was ten years late and its total cost is now estimated at $ 12 billion. But why has the astrophysical community so desperately clung to this extraordinary machine, sometimes to the sacrifice of other space instruments whose budgets it has devoured over time? Quite simply because its promises are up to the investment: gigantic.

“It is estimated that 4000 astrophysicists around the world are already associated with proposals for observations”, details Pierre-Olivier Lagage, astrophysicist at the CEA and co-responsible for Miri, one of the four instruments on board by the JWST. There are…

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