The Great Photon Escape

In a flash known as the Big Bang, our universe was born. Yet for hundreds of thousands of years, light from the Big Bang was scattered and trapped in a dense fog. Eventually, though, that light made its “great escape” and the universe was plunged into total darkness. These cosmic “Dark Ages” lasted for millions of years until the first stars and galaxies burst to life and began to illuminate the universe. However, no one knows just when this happened or what the earliest stars and galaxies were really like, because we’ve never seen them.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, currently under construction and due to launch in 2018, will use its powerful infrared vision to spy the very first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe and help us understand how today’s universe came to be.

This video is produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach and is narrated by Alia Shawkat.

Learn more about the James Webb Space Telescope at