Official NASA's James Webb Space Telescope account Launch: Dec. 25, 2021. First images: July 12, 2022. Verification:
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One Ring to Rule them All 👁️⁣ ⁣ There's one Ring Nebula that's precious to astronomers, from backyard stargazers to the @NASAHubble mission team. Now @NASAWebb has turned its eye to this popular target, revealing the complexity of its structure in unprecedented detail — as well the possibility that the dying star at its center has a companion.⁣ ⁣ Here are two views of the Ring Nebula. The first image is taken by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), and the second one is taken by its Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam). MIRI provided the sharpest and clearest view of the faint halo outside the bright ring. Physical features within suggest there may be a companion star helping to sculpt the layers thrown off by the dying star.⁣ ⁣ The Ring Nebula is a “planetary nebula,” originally named for having a planet-like appearance through small telescopes. In actuality, planetary nebulae are the remains of a star’s death throes. And while the Ring Nebula resembles a ring when seen face-on, it's more of a donut shape (a torus) when viewed in three dimensions! ⁣ ⁣ Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, M. Barlow (University College London), N. Cox (ACRI-ST), R. Wesson (Cardiff University)⁣ ⁣ Image descriptions:⁣ 1. Webb’s mid-infrared view of the Ring Nebula appears as a distorted doughnut. The nebula’s inner cavity hosts shades of red and orange, while the detailed ring transitions through shades of yellow in the inner regions and blue/purple in the outer region. The ring’s inner region has distinct filament elements. Stars are scattered among the dark background, appearing mostly as dots, though some have short, stubby diffraction spikes. ⁣ ⁣ 2. Webb’s near-infrared view of the Ring Nebula has a different color palette. This time, the nebula’s inner cavity hosts shades of blue and green, while the detailed ring transitions through shades of orange in the inner regions and pink in the outer region. Stars litter the scene, with a particularly prominent star with 8 long spikes in the top right corner.⁣ ⁣ #RingNebula #Ring #NASA #Space #JWST #JamesWebbSpaceTelescope #Donut #Star #LOTR #Tolkien
#ICYMI: Webb discovered carbon dioxide & methane in the atmosphere of planet K2-18 b. Based on the Webb data, the planet’s chemical make-up hints at the theory that this planet may have a water ocean underneath a hydrogen-rich atmosphere. However, more evidence is needed before scientists can determine if the planet could support life. Credits: Reel producer: BriAna Alvarado, NASA GSFC Opening illustration of K2-18 b & graph: NASA, ESA, CSA, R. Crawford (STScI), Joseph Olmsted (STScI), science by Nikku Madhusudhan (IoA) Other general exoplanet animations: @nasagoddard Music: “Life in Their Hands,” Paul Richard O’ Brien, Nova Production Music Video Description: 00:00-00:05 Illustration of K2-18 b seen as a large blue planet, with the tiny gray crescent of a different planet in the distance. Text on screen: “Recently, Webb discovered carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere of exoplanet K2-18 b.” 00:05-00:12 Animation of a generic blue planet against the blackness of space, with starlight streaming in from the left. Text: “Situated 120 light-years away from Earth, K2-18 b is in the distant constellation Leo.” 00:12-00:24 Animated zoom-in on a generic blue planet seemingly covered in ice patches. Text: “Webb observations hint at the potential for this exoplanet to have a hydrogen-rich atmosphere and an ocean surface.” 00:24-00:36 Video slowly pans over a graph showing the atmospheric composition of K2-18 b based on Webb data. There are highlighted signatures of carbon dioxide and methane. Text: “Despite its carbon-bearing molecules and orbit within the habitable zone, it is unknown whether K2-18 b can support life.” 00:36-00:45 Animation of a generic brown exoplanet flying into view, set against a dark, starry background. Text: “The planet may have a hostile environment due to its active star. Its ocean may also be too hot to be in a liquid state.” 00:45-00:58 Animation of a generic cloudy blue planet. To its left are small spheres representing its distant red glowing star and another planet in the system. Text: “The research team plans to use Webb to look for additional evidence of biological activity.” #JWST #Exoplanet #NASA #Space
Europa: Hoth or not? On the icy crust of Jupiter's moon Europa, @NASAWebb has discovered carbon dioxide that likely originated in the liquid water ocean below. The carbon dioxide was found to be most abundant in an area called Tara Regio, where there is evidence of material exchanging between Europa’s internal ocean and its crust. Carbon dioxide isn’t stable on Europa’s surface, so scientists believe it was deposited fairly recently, geologically speaking. Understanding the chemistry of this ocean could help determine if it is a good place for life as we know it. Webb builds off Juno, Galileo, New Horizons and other spacecraft who have taken close-ups of Europa. In Oct. 2024, NASA plans to launch the Europa Clipper mission, which will perform dozens of close flybys of Europa to further investigate if it could have conditions for life. More on each image: 1. An image by the #JunoMission spacecraft, taken in Sept. 2022. It shows more than three-quarters of a tan sphere marked with brown scar-like lines all over its surface. The bottom of the sphere fades into the black background. 2. Taken by @NASAWebb, this image shows Europa as a fuzzy blue and white sphere. There are darker blue patches in most of the northern hemisphere, as well as two distinct white patches along the southern hemisphere. Note that Europa appears hazy because it is very small compared to its distance from us (390.4 million miles, or 628.3 million km!). Missions like Voyager and Juno get up close to the bodies they are observing, giving them a high-resolution view. 3. Three compositional maps derived from Webb’s NIRSpec instrument data. These pixelated, circular maps each feature white, blue, or orange squares of various shades. The white pixels represent carbon dioxide ice. The pixelation is due to Europa being 10x10 pixels across the field of view, but there’s amazing data—a full NIRSpec spectrum—in each pixel! Juno - NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing: Kevin M. Gill Webb - NASA, ESA, CSA, Geronimo Villanueva (NASA-GSFC), Samantha K Trumbo (Cornell University. Image processing: Geronimo Villanueva, Alyssa Pagan (STScI) #Europa #Jupiter #JWST #NASA #SolarSystem #StarWars
If we could take a baby picture of our Sun, it might look something like this. 👶 Seen in this @NASAWebb image is a newborn star with supersonic jets of gas spewing from its poles. It’s only a few tens of thousands of years old here, but when it grows up, it’ll be much like our Sun. Bright regions around newborn stars, as seen here, are called Herbig-Haro objects. This specific Herbig-Haro object is called Herbig-Haro (HH) 211. At roughly 1,000 light-years away from Earth, it’s one of the youngest and nearest objects of its type. Herbig-Haro objects are created when jets of gas from these newborn stars form shockwaves as they collide with surrounding gas and dust. Webb’s sensitive infrared vision can pierce through the gas and dust, picking up on the heat emissions from the star’s outflows and mapping out structure in unprecedented detail. Interestingly, Webb observations have also shown that the outflows from this object are slower in comparison to that of more developed baby stars. More at @NASAWebb’s link in bio! Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, T. Ray (Dublin) Image description: At the center is a thin horizontal pinkish cloud known as Herbig-Haro 211 that is uneven with rounded ends, and tilted from bottom left to top right. It takes up about two-thirds of the length of this angle, but is thinner and longer at the opposite angle. At its center is a dark spot. On either side of the dark spot, there are orangish yellow wisps that extend to light blue wisps. Within the center of those clouds, a pink fluffy streak runs through each lobe. At the ends of each lobe, pink becomes the dominant color. The lobe to the left is fatter. The right lobe is thinner, and ends in a smaller pink semi-circle. Just off the edge of this lobe is a slightly smaller pink semicircle, then a pink sponge-like blog. The background contains several bright stars, each with eight diffraction spikes extending out from the central bright point. #JWST #JamesWebbSpaceTelescope #Baby #Star #Space #Astronomy #NASA
In the time you read this, the universe got a bit bigger. One of @NASAHubble’s goals was to determine how fast the universe is expanding. Webb has now corroborated 30 years of Hubble data, deepening a persistent mystery: Why is the universe expanding so fast? Scientists predicted how fast the universe is expanding based on “baby pictures” of the universe in the aftermath of the big bang. But Hubble's measurements suggested a faster expansion rate than what was predicted — a discrepancy known as the Hubble Tension. 1. This image is a composite of Webb and Hubble data. It shows spiral galaxy NGC 5584, one of the galaxies involved in the Webb research team’s calculations of the universe’s expansion rate. Hubble and Webb both calculated how fast the universe is expanding with the help of extremely bright, pulsating stars called Cepheids. Due to their known properties, these stars often serve as cosmic yardsticks for measuring distances in space. Using the stars within galaxies as markers, astronomers can stack measurements in a “cosmic distance ladder.” They start with measurements of actual distances to nearby galaxies, then move to galaxies farther and farther out. Then they use these values, along with measurements of the galaxies’ light, to ultimately determine how fast the cosmos expands over time. 2. This infographic highlights Webb’s infrared capabilities. Hubble has the ability to single out Cepheids in a crowded star field, but it primarily sees in visible light. This presents an issue when cosmic dust can absorb and scatter visible light, making distant objects look farther away than they actually are. Enter Webb. Its sharper infrared vision cuts through the dust, and it more clearly isolates Cepheid stars. While Webb’s data has less noise, the results match Hubble's — indicating that any potential Hubble inaccuracy was not the source of the Hubble Tension. What could be causing the discrepancy instead? Learn more at our link in bio. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Riess (STScI), W. Yuan (STScI) *Image descriptions can be found in the alt text field. #JWST #JamesWebbSpaceTelescope #Universe #Expansion #Hubble #NASA #Galaxies
Webb has detected carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere of K2-18 b, a potentially habitable world over 8 times bigger than Earth. An abundance of carbon dioxide and methane (along with a shortage of ammonia) is intriguing to astronomers: It supports the idea that this planet may have a water ocean underneath a hydrogen-rich atmosphere. Webb also hinted at a detection of dimethyl sulphide (DMS) on K2-18 b. On Earth, this molecule is only produced by microbial life. Because the detection needs to be confirmed, the team plans to follow up and look for additional evidence of biological activity on the planet. While K2-18 b is in the habitable zone (where conditions are right for liquid water to exist), that does not necessarily mean it can support life. For instance, it may have a hostile environment due to its active star. Its ocean may also be too hot to be habitable. Learn more at our link in bio. Descriptions: 1. Graphic titled: “Webb Discovers Methane, Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere of a Distant World.” The background artist illustration shows a blue planet on the right, with its small, glowing red star in the lower left. Between them is a tiny white crescent in the distance. 2. Graphic which reads: “Atmosphere Composition: Data from Webb’s NIRISS and NIRSpec Instruments. About 120 light-years away is exoplanet K2-18 b, a potentially habitable world over 8 times bigger than Earth. Webb’s data (below) supports the hypothesis that the planet might have a water ocean underneath a hydrogen-rich atmosphere.” Below this is a graph with the y-axis labeled as Amount of Light Blocked and the x-axis as Wavelength of Light (microns). The data is plotted as dots with vertical error bars. A jagged blue line shows the best-fit model. Semi-transparent magenta, red and green columns indicate detections of methane, carbon dioxide, and dimethyl sulfide in the data. Behind the graph is an illustration of the planet and star. Illustration: NASA, ESA, CSA, Ralf Crawford (STScI), Joseph Olmsted (STScI). Science: Nikku Madhusudhan (IoA) #Exoplanet #JWST #NASA #Astrobiology #Space #Habitable #World #JamesWebbSpaceTelescope #Science
The light of Earendel, our most beloved star ⭐ Discovered by @NASAHubble, Earendel (see second image) is the farthest star ever detected. It existed in the first billion years after the big bang! The Webb Telescope now shows it to be a massive B-type star, more than twice as hot as our Sun and about a million times more luminous. Earendel is only detectable thanks to a galaxy cluster between the star and us. The cluster’s gravity bends light, magnifying what is behind it—in the case of Earendel, by a factor of at least 4000. Based on the colors of the light of Earendel, astronomers think it may have a cooler companion star. Webb is also able to see other details in Earendel’s host galaxy, the Sunrise Arc, the most highly magnified galaxy yet detected in the universe’s first billion years. It features both young star-forming regions and older, established star clusters as small as 10 light-years across. Because Webb is so sensitive, it has spotted other very distant stars, though not quite so distant as Earendel. Astronomers have cautious hope that the very first generation of stars in the universe may yet be detectable. More at our link in bio! Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Dan Coe (STScI/AURA for ESA, JHU), Brian Welch (NASA-GSFC, UMD), with image processing by Zolt G. Levay Image Descriptions: 1. A black background is scattered with hundreds of small galaxies of different shapes and colors. Some galaxies are distorted. Just a bit above the center, there is a bright source of light, a star with 8 bright diffraction spikes extending out from it. Below the star are several noticeably fuzzy white galaxies that resemble cotton balls. These are part of a galaxy cluster. To the lower right of the star is a long, red, thin line stretching from one o’clock to 7 o’clock, outlined in a white inset box. This is the Sunrise Arc galaxy. 2. A close-up of the box highlighting the Sunrise Arc. Several bright dots, some thicker than others, are along the long red line, with one labeled as Earendel. Other galaxies (blobs, dots and disks in white or red) fill the background. #NASA #SunriseArc #Galaxy #Earendel #LordOfTheRings #LOTR #JWST #JamesWebbSpaceTelescope #Stars #Space
Youths! Webb observed the galaxy cluster El Gordo, a “cosmic teenager” that existed 6.2 billion years after the big bang. The most massive cluster of its era, it’s a perfect magnifying glass. (Its gravitational pull is so strong that it has bent and magnified light from distant objects behind it.) In the second image, take a closer look at two of the background galaxies magnified by El Gordo. The long thin line in Box A is known as La Flaca, or The Thin One. Webb used its extreme infrared sensitivity to spot a red giant star within, the first star of this type observed beyond 1 billion light-years from Earth. The bright arc in Box B is El Anzuelo, or The Fishhook. Light from this galaxy took 10.6 billion years to reach Earth! Webb peered through its thick curtain of dust to observe star formation and the assembly of galaxies up close. Read more at the link in our bio. Image descriptions: 1. A black background is scattered with hundreds of small galaxies of different shapes, ranging in color from white to yellow to red. Some galaxies appear warped. A handful of foreground stars display eight diffraction spikes. 2. Image with 3 panels. The top panel is the previous galaxy field, cropped to spotlight 2 objects that each have white boxes around them. In the lower left of this top panel is Box A, and at upper right is Box B. The bottom left panel is a close-up of Box A. It shows a thin, mottled line extending from upper left to lower right with a handful of background objects. The bottom right panel is a close-up of Box B. It highlights a red swoosh wrapping from upper left to lower right, nearly encircling two small galaxies. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, Jose M. Diego (IFCA), Brenda Frye (University of Arizona), Patrick Kamieneski (ASU), Tim Carleton (ASU), Rogier Windhorst (ASU), with image processing by Alyssa Pagan (STScI), Jake Summers (ASU), Jordan C. J. D'Silva (UWA), Anton M. Koekemoer (STScI), Aaron Robotham (UWA), Rogier Windhorst (ASU). #ElGordo #LaFlaca #ElAnzuelo #Fishhook #JWST #JamesWebbSpaceTelescope #NASA #Galaxies #Space #Astronomy
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