Do NASA's James Webb Telescope Photos Represent the Universe From Where the Telescope Is?

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Do the astonishing images from the James Webb telescope represent the way the universe would look from that particular viewpoint if one were standing where the telescope is located?

—Sophie M., Washington, D.C.

Not at all. The telescope operates in infrared wavelengths, which human eyes cannot see. So the images were painstakingly colorized with a palette and style designed to represent the various frequencies that were captured at that moment in time. (You can do the same with radio waves, but the result won’t be as engaging.) This kind of art is intended to both inspire the public imagination and justify the continuation of expensive space programs. It has succeeded on both fronts.

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