James Webb discovers the most distant galaxy to date and contradicts our ideas about the early Universe

The record for the most distant known galaxy has just been broken once again. The James Webb Space Telescope (JSWT) has captured light from a star cluster born 290 million years after the Big Bang. Although the results are subject to peer review, NASA reported progress on the massive measuring instrument in a statement.

The distance to an object in deep space is calculated by a change in color known as “redshift”. The longer light travels through space, the wider its wavelength becomes and the closer it approaches that color. The greater the magnitude of this shift, the further the structure will be from the Earth. Until now, the most distant galaxy known had a redshift of 13.2, but the new structure imaged by JWST shows a redshift of 14.32.

The new most distant galaxy so far is called JADES-GS-Z14-0. It is 1,600 light-years in diameter and nearly all of its light comes from young stars, according to NASA. For comparison, the diameter of the Milky Way is currently 105,700 light years. The newly discovered structure is not only very far away, but it is also supermassive and very bright. Except, It formed when the universe was only 2.10% of its current age. (13800 million years).

The most distant galaxy in the Universe.

JADES-GS-Z14-0 was already a supermassive galaxy 290 million years after the Big Bang.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Brant Robertson (UC Santa Cruz), Ben Johnson (CfA), Sandro Tacchella (Cambridge), Phil Cargile (CfA)\

A bright supermassive galaxy in the infancy of the Universe contradicts ideas about the nature of early star clusters. Some cosmologists believe that such structures are impossible because they would not have had enough time to accumulate that much mass and become supermassive. Returning to the example of the Milky Way, it took billions of years to increase in size due to the merger of other protogalaxies. James Webb’s latest measurements with JADES-GS-Z14-0 are forcing science to rethink the behavior of early galaxies.

Illustration of quasar J059-4351
The brightest object in the Universe is a massive quasar with a diameter of 7 light years.

The light from quasar J059-4351 took 12 billion years to reach Earth and comes from a black hole with the mass of 17 billion suns.

James Webb, a machine that allows you to look into the past

JWST’s infrared sensors have opened up a new area of ​​research for astronomers. For the first time, science can observe with great clarity traces of light emanating from the early Universe. There is even a research program called CEERS (Extremely Remote Regions Research) dedicated exclusively to the study of regions farthest from our field of vision. Thanks to this, stars and black holes were discovered that formed very close to the Big Bang.

It’s important to remember that since light travels at a finite speed of 300,000 meters per second and space expands, seeing light from very distant objects is equivalent to seeing what they looked like a long time ago. If an observer far enough away pointed a telescope at Earth, he could see, for example, the Jurassic period in full swing. Likewise, JWST, by being able to peer deep into the distant Universe, allows us to study some aspects of the Universe in its early stages.

Among the James Webb Space Telescope’s enormous contributions to our understanding of the early Universe are clues to how the first light appeared in the Universe and how primordial galaxies formed from clouds of neutral hydrogen gas.

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