On the anniversary of NASA’s Webb telescope reaching its destination, here are the most striking images yet

Tuesday marks one year since the James Webb Space Telescope reached its destination, orbiting 1 million miles from Earth.

The Webb Telescope, which was launched on Christmas Day 2021, was a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency to study the formation of the earliest galaxies in the universe, how they compare with today’s galaxies, how our solar system developed, and whether life exists on other planets.

It uses infrared radiation to detect objects in space and can view celestial bodies that are generally invisible to the naked eye.

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Since then, the Webb telescope has sent back many images, including stars, planets and nebulae, and even galaxies millions of miles away.

Here are some of the most striking photos taken during the year:

PHOTO: Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center November 2, 2016, in Greenbelt, Maryland (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

PHOTO: Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center November 2, 2016, in Greenbelt, Maryland (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Distant galaxies

The first color image taken by the Webb Telescope was unveiled at a July 11 White House press event hosted by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

According to NASA, the image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is “the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date.”

Distant Galaxies (Space Telescope Scientific Institute / NASA)

Distant Galaxies (Space Telescope Scientific Institute / NASA)

Thousands of galaxies are visible in the image, but according to NASA, it is the size of the equivalent of a person holding a grain of sand at arm’s length.

For the first time, the public understood how much more powerful Webb is than its predecessor, the Hubble Telescope, which can only see visible light, ultraviolet and near-infrared radiation.

Space Cliffs

The image, released on July 12 at a NASA event, showed new details about the Carina Nebula in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Only the edge of the nebula is visible, but the image shows hundreds of stars that were previously masked by a cloud of gas and dust.

PHOTO: Behind a curtain of dust and gas in these Cosmic Cliffs are previously hidden young stars, discovered by the James Webb Space Telescope in this image released July 12, 2022. (NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI)

PHOTO: Behind a curtain of dust and gas in these Cosmic Cliffs are previously hidden young stars, discovered by the James Webb Space Telescope in this image released July 12, 2022. (NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI)

The area, dubbed Cosmic Cliffs, shows a “huge gas pit” where young stars, recently born, push out ultraviolet radiation and create a jagged edge.

The cloud-like structure of the nebula includes ridges, peaks, and valleys – it looks very much like a mountain range.

Jupiter in detail

On August 22, NASA revealed two new images of Jupiter taken by Webb that show the planet’s atmosphere, rings and moons in never-before-seen detail.

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The first image is a combination of vortices in different colors, pointing to Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere and the infamous Great Red Spot, which can produce winds in excess of 250 mph.

The second image shows Jupiter’s rings, which NASA says are a million times fainter than the planet, and two of its moons, Adrastea and Amalthea.

Jupiter (Space Telescope Research Institute / NASA)

Jupiter (Space Telescope Research Institute / NASA)

Phantom galaxy

First released on August 30 by ESA, Webb captured the image of the Ghost Galaxy, which is about 32 million light years from Earth.

The Wraith Galaxy, also known as M74, has a low surface brightness, making it difficult to see and requires clear, dark skies to do so. However, Webb’s sharp lens captured the clearest picture of the galaxy’s features.

“These spiral arms are colored blue and pink, which are regions of star formation,” NASA wrote in a social media post. “A mottled cluster of young stars shines blue in the heart of the galaxy.”

Spectral galaxy (Space Telescope Scientific Institute / NASA)

Spectral galaxy (Space Telescope Scientific Institute / NASA)

Pillars of Creation

NASA released an image of the “Pillars of Creation” – young, bright red stars in a billowing cloud of gas and dust – October 19

According to the space agency, the Pillars of Creation are elephant trunks, a type of interstellar matter formation found in the Eagle Nebula, which is about 6,500 to 7,000 light years from Earth.

Pillars of Creation (Space Telescope Scientific Institute / NASA)

Pillars of Creation (Space Telescope Scientific Institute / NASA)

Fiery hourglass

Released on November 16, the Webb Telescope reveals a protostar that is in the early stages of star birth.

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A red and orange gas cloud bends into a fiery hourglass shape.

As it draws in material, its core will compress, heat up, and eventually begin nuclear fusion to form a star.

Fiery hourglass (Space Telescope Scientific Institute / NASA)

Fiery hourglass (Space Telescope Scientific Institute / NASA)

The coldest ice ever measured

The last image released by NASA before the first anniversary shows a molecular cloud where stars and planets are being born, with icy components.

The telescope shows the frozen form of elements including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur.

PHOTO: This image taken by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) shows the central region of the dark molecular cloud Chamaeleon I, which is 630 light-years away.  (Space Telescope Science Institute/NASA, ESA, CSA and M. McClure)

PHOTO: This image taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) shows the central region of the dark molecular cloud Chamaeleon I, 630 light years away. (Space Telescope Science Institute/NASA, ESA, CSA and M. McClure)

“We’re not talking about ice cubes,” NASA wrote social media post January 23. ‚ÄúThis molecular cloud is so cold and dark that various molecules have frozen into the dust grains inside. Webb’s data show for the first time that molecules more complex than methanol can form in the icy depths of such clouds before stars are born.”

Max Zahn of ABC News contributed to this report.

On the anniversary of NASA’s Webb telescope reaching its destination, here are the most striking images that originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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