Watch Scientists' Wholesome Reactions to Images From James Webb Telescope

After NASA revealed the most detailed images of space recorded so far, scientists across the globe have been going viral online with their wholesome and passionate reactions to the history-making photos.

This week, NASA shared the first images taken with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) since it was launched in December 2021. The telescope uses infrared light technology to view space, making the captured images the deepest and sharpest ever taken of the universe.

NASA released the first deep field image on Monday—a long exposure shot of a cluster of galaxies. The space organization then released images of the Carina Nebula, the Southern Ring Nebula and Stephan's Quintet galaxy group.

For many, these images might not mean all that much, but for scientists across the world, it's a day to be remembered. Astrophysicists have taken to TikTok to share their honest reaction to the images, and have been racking up views in the millions for them.

Dr. Becky's reaction
Stills from Dr. Becky Smethurst's YouTube video reaction to NASA's latest James Webb Space Telescope images. Dr. Becky

Oxford astrophysicist Dr. Becky Smethurst, known on YouTube and TikTok as Dr. Becky, documented her response to seeing the image of Stephan's Quintet in a video that has since gained over 2 million views.

"A room full of astronomers who specialize in galaxies reacting to this incredible new image from the James Webb Space Telescope," she detailed on-screen.

Ahead of the reveal, Smethurst excitedly clapped her hands surrounded by other scientists just as excited. As the image was revealed, she gasped before letting out an "oh my gosh." Smethurst then grabbed her head in shock before adding "woah."

In an e-mail to Newsweek, Smethurst explained: "I'm fairly early in my career, so I've only been waiting for this telescope for 9 years or so and yet I still can't believe we're finally at this day.

"I can't even imagine how people who've been working on it since 1995 feel. By recording my reaction I was trying to capture the relief and wonder that's been felt by astronomers around the world. But now it's time to get to work!"

Sarafina Nance, an astrophysicist and ph.D. student in the department of astronomy at the University of California, gained over 800,000 likes on the video of her first seeing the NASA images. Nance shared her video to TikTok on July 13, and in just one day and has gotten 5 million views.

Seated at her laptop, Nance slowly gasped at the images of "a planetary nebula 2,500 light years away." As she sat open-mouthed and wide-eyed in silence, she then placed her hand over her mouth in disbelief. Unable to compute what she was seeing fully, she leaned forward for a closer look.

Nance told Newsweek that she's been anticipating these images for years, all leading to that moment when she saw the images. "From my early college days in astronomy through grad school, JWST has represented the advent of new science discoveries in previously unreachable parts of the universe," she said. "Frankly, it's dizzying for the days of JWST to finally be here!"

"As a scientist, I believe that it's part of my job to share the wonders of the universe with the world. JWST represents an extraordinary global effort, from engineers to scientists to advocates and more," Nance said. "I believe that this telescope represents a new cosmic dawn for humans to learn more about some of the most fundamental questions that face humankind-- questions like, 'Are we alone?' That is so exciting as a scientist and as a global citizen, and I share online in hopes of sharing that joy, science, and exploration with others!"

Astrophysicist Skylar Grayson shared her immediate response in a lengthy YouTube video, showing her reaction to the image of the Southern Ring Nebula, starting with a coffee-fuelled 14-minute build-up.

"It's a really big day for the astronomy community," she said. "This telescope, this marvel of engineering is one of the most impressive things that humanity has ever built."

After seeing the spectrum composition provided by NASA, Grayson began to become teary eyed while explaining how important it is to her.

"The planetarium nebula is so beautiful," she continued upon seeing the next image, continuing to become overwhelmed with emotions. Each new image proceeded in producing tears for Grayson, amid a few "holy sh**s" and gasps.

"Thanks for letting me share it with you," Grayson captioned her video.

Grayson explained to Newsweek that showing her reaction to the JWST images might just help teach many the importance of them for everyone: "A lot of people haven't even heard of JWST, but I think showing them how it impacts someone who's building a life around astrophysics helps humanize these images that emphasize both how small humanity is and how beautifully we fit into the cycles of the universe.

"I wanted to share the emotions these gorgeous images brought out in me, and the awe that hopefully everyone can share about how much we will learn in the coming decades," Grayson added.

"In these pictures, we see the births and deaths of stars and solar systems, galaxy collisions that mirror the possible fate of our own Milky Way, and thousands and thousands of galaxies reaching back billions of years. It puts our existence in a cosmic perspective in an unprecedented way, and that's why I wanted to share my reactions."

Update 7/15/22 11:50 a.m. ET: This story has been updated with a new video and comments from Nance and Grayson.