At a Glance: The First Galaxies—Observing with the Webb Space Telescope

Video Player

Video Versions

Galaxies change in size and appearance over time. The Webb Telescope will help us understand how the earliest galaxies evolved into the galaxies we see today. 

Light and Distance
Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach
All images, illustrations, and videos courtesy of NASA except:
·       Illustration of radiation from everyday objects courtesy of STScI
·       Illustration of electromagnetic waves courtesy of STScI
·       Photo of crepuscular rays courtesy of Wikimedia user Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
·       Photo of snake courtesy of Mark Mannetti
·       Infrared image of a mouse courtesy of Julius Lab, UCSF
·       Photo of snow geese and the Moon courtesy of Brocken Inaglory
·       James Webb Space Telescope illustrations by STScI/G. Bacon
·       Ariane 5 rocket launch image ©2008 ESA – CNES – Arianespace/Photo by Optique Video CSG
·       James Webb Space Telescope animation by STScI/G. Bacon
·       Animation of traveling light pulses courtesy of Footage Island
·       Alpha Centauri animation courtesy of ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger (
·       Andromeda Galaxy image courtesy of ESA/Hubble & Digitized Sky Survey 2; acknowledgment: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)
·       Illustration of galaxies at different distances by STScI/A. Field
·       Cosmic redshift animation courtesy of ESO
·       Simulated JWST galaxy field image courtesy of STScI
·       Taurus constellation drawing from Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius, courtesy of the United States Naval Observatory
Written by Tracy Vogel
Designed by Marc Lussier 
Music courtesy of Associated Production Music


Text, at a glance, The first galaxies

View of elliptical and spiral galaxies

Text, Galaxies change in size and appearance over time

Today’s galaxies often have large spiral or elliptical shapes.

Earlier galaxies have less definition

Galaxies shown in a broad view of space are circled and placed in a grid. Each square contains an example of a small round galaxy

Text, And extremely early galaxies often appear as smallish blobs of stars.

The Webb Telescope is helping us understand how the earliest galaxies evolved into the galaxies we see today.