James Webb images were made to look beautiful

What does beauty have to do with science?

The recent images from the James Webb Telescope were deliberately made to look beautiful by NASA. The telescope itself can’t even detect visible light – the colours of the images were chosen by the astronomers. So was this just a cheap marketing trick on behalf of NASA? Milena Ivanova argues that science does indeed use beauty to trigger feelings of awe and wonder, but beauty can also act as a guide to scientific discovery.


Last month the whole world marvelled at the beauty of the newly released space images by NASA’s most powerful-to-date James Webb Space Telescope. This telescope is one of science’s most precise and complex instruments. With its help, scientists hope to learn more about the origins of the universe, how galaxies evolved, the composition and dynamics of atmospheres of exoplanets and more. The prospect of these discoveries prompted feelings of awe and wonder, but what was mainly celebrated was the beauty of the images,

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