An incredible image taken by the Webb Space Telescope has been released to mark a year since it began its galactic operations.
NASA revealed the picture on Wednesday, showing the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex – the closest star-forming region to earth around 390 light years away.
Some 50 stars are captured by the image, with some having a similar mass to the sun, NASA said.
Launched on 25 December 2021, it is the largest telescope in space and will be able to see objects in space too old, distant, or faint for its predecessor Hubble.
Its first images were released to the public a year ago – showing galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 in sharp detail, largely considered to be one of the most detailed images from space ever.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson said: “In just one year, the James Webb Space Telescope has transformed humanity’s view of the cosmos, peering into dust clouds and seeing light from faraway corners of the universe for the very first time.
“Every new image is a new discovery, empowering scientists around the globe to ask and answer questions they once could never dream of.”
Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, said: “Webb’s image of Rho Ophiuchi allows us to witness a very brief period in the stellar lifecycle with new clarity.
“Our own sun experienced a phase like this, long ago, and now we have the technology to see the beginning of another star’s story.”
On its mission, it is hoped it will one day see light from the big bang and study planetary systems for origins of life.
So far, the telescope has sent back images of Uranus and Neptune, as well as icy clouds some 500 light years away from Earth.