But because the 18 mirrors are not yet working in unison, they produce 18 individual artefacts.
Engineers will spend the next month fine-tuning the alignment of the mirror so the 18 images become one.
“Launching Webb to space was of course an exciting event, but for scientists and optical engineers this is a pinnacle moment, when light from a star is successfully making its way through the system down onto a detector,” said Michael McElwain, Webb observatory project scientist at the Nasa Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.
James Webb is designed to operate at frigid temperatures as it specialises in spotting infrared radiation, and heat is a source of interference.
It will take several months before the machine cools to its desired -223C (-369.4F), and this ground-breaking initial photo was taken by NIRCam, one of JWST’s four primary instruments, the only one which can work adequately at warmer temperatures.
We were so happy to see that light makes its way into NIRCam,” said Marcia Rieke, principal investigator for the instrument and regents professor of astronomy, University of Arizona.