Vatican astronomer praises beauty and potential of Webb

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VATICAN City (RNS) — Vatican astrophysicist Brother Dude Consolmagno launched a assertion Thursday (July 14) praising the crisp visuals of the cosmos delivered by NASA’s James Webb Area Telescope as “food for the human spirit,” though highlighting the wealthy record of Catholic experts who have examined the stars.

“We’re actually psyched by the new photos from the Webb telescope!” wrote Consolmagno, who is the director of the Vatican area observatory identified as the Specola Vaticana, which has existed considering the fact that the late 1500s.

“The pictures are gorgeous, as anyone can see for themselves. It is a tantalizing glimpse of what we’ll be able to find out about the universe with this telescope in the future,” he included.

The Webb telescope, the item of an international collaboration of researchers that expense above $10 billion, is the greatest optical telescope in space, and astrophysicists are optimistic about the clarity it could supply on a lot of unanswered thoughts about the universe.

“The science behind this telescope is our try to use our God-provided intelligence to fully grasp the logic of the universe,” Consolmagno wrote, introducing that “the universe wouldn’t perform if it weren’t reasonable.”

“But as these images show, the universe is not only sensible, it is also attractive. This is God’s generation remaining discovered to us, and in it we can see both his astonishing power and his appreciate of elegance,” he explained.

This side-by-side comparison shows observations of the Southern Ring Nebula in near-infrared light, at left, and mid-infrared light, at right, from NASA’s Webb Telescope. Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

This aspect-by-facet comparison demonstrates observations of the Southern Ring Nebula in close to-infrared mild, at still left, and mid-infrared gentle, at appropriate, from NASA’s James Webb House Telescope. Graphic credit rating: NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI

The Vatican astronomer also shared his pleasure at the truth that numerous of the people who labored on the Webb telescope are his friends and colleagues. “I know how extensive and how hard they and their colleagues have worked to make this remarkable machine do the job,” he wrote. “It is a tribute to the ability of the human spirit, what we can do when we do the job with each other.”

The Vatican Observatory collaborates with lots of international schools and companies to even further the comprehending and research of room. Each individual year, the Vatican Observatory Summer season Schools give an intensive 4-working day training course where by pupils can discover from top researchers in the industry. College at the Vatican’s house summer months school consist of George and Marcia Reike, who ended up driving the development of the infrared cameras of the Webb telescope, and Didier Queloz, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2019.

Among the its previous students is Heino Falcke, who was a member of the team that rendered the initially impression of the black gap in the middle of the Milky Way in Might.

In June 2023, the Vatican Observatory Summer Faculties will resume immediately after a hiatus introduced on by the pandemic. The theme will be “Learning the Universe: Info Science Tools for Astronomical Surveys,” which gives methods for examining major facts as telescopes and detectors increase ever more advanced.

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Consolmagno mentioned he “was particularly delighted to see Webb’s very first spectrum of h2o vapor in the ambiance of an exo-earth,” referring to planets that may well be hospitable to lifestyle. He recalled that the 1st spectral measurements of house, which assistance to improved understand the ambiance of a earth, had been manufactured by a Jesuit priest, the Rev. Angelo Secchi, in a church in Rome about 150 a long time back.

The relationship in between the Catholic religion and science has viewed many ups and downs through historical past. Although the Vatican demo of the astronomer Galileo Galilei in the 1600s for his belief that the Earth revolved about the sunshine surely marked a second of stress and hostility, on other situations Catholicism encouraged good scientific leaps, these as the Rev. Georges Lemaître’s first theorizing of the Significant Bang and Pope Gregory XIII’s establishment of the calendar continue to applied these days in the West.

“I can only consider how delighted he would be to see the science he pioneered used to planets unknown to him orbiting distant stars,” Consolmagno wrote.


The Vatican astronomer also cited a passage of the Bible, Psalm 8, recounting the marvel of the cosmos, which was also tweeted out by Jesuit priest the Rev. James Martin shortly just after the visuals of the Webb telescope had been unveiled.

“I am stunned and grateful that God has provided us human beings, His generation, the capacity to see and recognize what He has performed,” wrote Consolmagno.

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