“Much of the attention leading up to today’s launch has focused on the ability of [James Webb Space Telescope] to peer farther into the past than [Hubble Space Telescope], which has observed infant galaxies as far back as approximately 400 million years after the big bang.
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“At that point in the universe’s history, however, matter had already undergone several generations of evolution—galaxies merging and shredding, supernovae seeding space with additions to (what sentient beings on Earth would one day call) the periodic table of the elements.
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“JWST, however, will be able to see as far into the past as 100 million years after the big bang, a period when most matter consisted of only the primordial elements and was just beginning to coalesce into stars and galaxies.
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“From the inception of JWST, the primary goal has been to glimpse these phenomena—the first luminous objects in the universe.”