What is the difference between NASA's Hubble & James Webb Telescopes?

NASA would be launching the most powerful telescope, the James Webb Telescope on December 25th, Christmas day. It is the successor of the famous Hubble telescope. Check below the difference between the two telescopes below.
Created On: Dec 21, 2021 09:36 IST
Modified On: Dec 21, 2021 09:37 IST
Hubble vs James Webb Telescope
Hubble vs James Webb Telescope

NASA would be launching the most powerful telescope of space- the James Webb telescope into the orbit of the earth on December 25th, 2021. It is called the successor of NASA's famous Hubble telescope that was launched into lower Earth orbit in 1990. Till now Hubble has sent 1.4 million observations to the Earth, most famously capturing a comet crashing on Jupiter. Check the differences between the two telescopes below. 

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Difference Between Hubble & James Webb Telescope:


The James Webb Space Telescope would be observing infrared radiations most primarily covering between 0.6 to 28 microns. 

Hubble’s work involved watching the ultraviolet and the visible spectrum of light. It observes the range of 0.8 to 2.5 microns. 

Hubble vs Webb


Webb Telescope would not be orbiting the Earth. It would be orbiting the sun from 1.5 million kilometres away from the Earth. 

Hubble orbits the Earth at an altitude of 575 kilometres from it.  

Hubble vs Webb


As per NASA, Hubble can see the smallest and the newest of all galaxies. 

NASA also says that Webb would be able to see the newborn galaxies as well. Webb's near and mid-infrared instruments would be helpful in studying the first formed galaxies and exoplanets.  Take a look at the picture below to know how far can Webb see

Webb telescope range


James Webb telescope has a primary diameter of 6.5 metres. Webb carries a large shield that measures about 22 metres and 12 metres that is almost the size of a tennis court. 

Hubble's mirror is smaller than 2.4 metres in diameter. 

Hubble vs Webb size

To sum it all up Webb would be looking at the Universe in the infrared, while Hubble would be studying it at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths. Webb also has a bigger mirror than Hubble. 

It has a larger light-collecting area which means that Webb can peer farther back into time than Hubble is capable of doing. Hubble is in a very close orbit around the earth, while Webb will be 1.5 million kilometres (km) away at the second Lagrange (L2) point.

As per NASA's statement, "Hubble's science pushed us to look to longer wavelengths to "go beyond" what Hubble has already done. In particular, more distant objects are more highly redshifted, and their light is pushed from the UV and optical into the near-infrared. Thus observations of these distant objects (like the first galaxies formed in the Universe, for example) requires an infrared telescope."


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Can James Webb Telescope see Black Holes?

In case the dark matter is made of primordial black holes, more stars would have formed around them in the early universe. So James Webb Telescope can see Black Holes.

How long would it take for James Webb to become operational in space?

James Webb Telescope would take 12 days after its launch to begin its operations in space. It first mirror would unfold then.

Why is the James Webb telescope named as such?

Sean O'Keefe, the NASA administrator in 2002, announced that an instrument would be named for Mr. James Webb who had been the leader of the Apollo missions. Thus the telescope is named after him.

Which is the largest space telescope till today?

NASA's James Webb Telescope is the largest space telescope that would be placed in the outer space on December 25th, 2021

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