The key stage of James Webb`s mirror alignment has been completed

On March 16, NASA spokesmen summed up the preliminary results of the operation to align the segments of the main mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). According to them, the tests showed that the performance of the device’s optical systems not only met expectations, but also exceeded them. This paves the way for a robust scientific program.

JWST was launched in December 2021. The device successfully deployed its sun protection screen and main mirror, after which the process of adjusting its eighteen segments began. Engineers made microscopic changes to the position of these segments to achieve congruence of luminous fluxes.

 Image of the star J17554042 + 6551277, taken by the James Webb telescope. Source: NASA / STScI

The operation was a success. To confirm this, mission experts showed a test shot by JWST. The star in its center is J17554042 + 6551277. The purpose of the shot was to test the telescope’s capability to focus.

Characteristic bright rays emanating from J17554042 + 6551277 is an optical effect that occurs due to the diffraction of luminous flux on the guys that support the secondary mirror of the telescope. Interestingly, due to the sensitivity of JWST, we see background galaxies in the photo.

Over the next six weeks, engineers are going to continue setting up the JWST optical system. This work is scheduled to be completed by May. Then comes a two-month period of calibration of the observatory’s scientific instruments. Upon its completion, JWST will be able to start routine scientific observations.

Earlier we told how JWST was photographed by Gaia Observatory.