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The latest selfie from the James Webb Space Telescope is key for the space observatory

The James Webb Space Telescope's 18 mirrors are now aligned enough to serve as one huge mirror, according to new photos released by the space observatory. A "selfie" from JWST illustrating the mirrors' progress, as well as updated photos of a single star, are among the new photographs provided by NASA today.

The telescope's total 18 mirrors have been focused on the lonely star HD 84406, which the researchers are using as a target to align the mirrors since it reached its final orbit. Last month's photos revealed 18 images of the star, each caught separately on each mirror segment. The Near-Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, captures what HD 84406 looks like when all 18 mirrors are working together. They were able to acquire not only a picture of the star, but also images of distant galaxies behind it.

“More than 20 years ago, the Webb team set out to build the most powerful telescope that anyone has ever put in space and came up with an audacious optical design to meet demanding science goals,” said Thomas Zurbuchan, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Today we can say that design is going to deliver.”

NASA will continue to prepare JWST for its science activities over the next six weeks. The near-infrared spectrograph, mid-infrared device, near-infrared imager, and slitless spectrograph will be aligned as the team's next step. Following that, JWST will begin its final checks and make any necessary adjustments.

According to NASA, the lengthy alignment process is on schedule and should be completed by early May when the telescope is ready for scientific observation preparations. They also stated that the first set of photographs and scientific data from the telescope will be revealed in the summer.


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