Will we ever see pictures of the big bang? We ask an expert

Dr Matthew Bothwell, public astronomer at the University of Cambridge, on whether humans will one day be able to observe the origin of the universe

The pictures from the James Webb telescope – described by Nasa as a “time machine” because the light has taken billions of years to reach us – raise the question: will it be possible to someday see the big bang itself? I asked Dr Matthew Bothwell, public astronomer at the University of Cambridge.

Why is the James Webb telescope so good?
First, it’s infrared. Firefighters wear infrared goggles because it helps them see through smoke and dust, and stars form behind a lot of smoke and dust. Also, and this is a bit technical, light that arrives from distant space is redshifted. That’s because, as the universe is growing and the light is travelling across it, the light gets stretched and becomes redder. Finally, the telescope is just really big.

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