The Webb Space Telescope discovers early galaxies hidden from Hubble


The Webb Space Telescope discovers early galaxies hidden from Hubble

This image made available by the Space Telescope Science Institute on Thursday, November 17, 2022, shows two of the most distant galaxies seen to date captured by the James Webb Space Telescope in the outer regions of the giant galaxy cluster Abell 2744. The galaxies are not within the cluster, but behind it. Billions of light years. The galaxy with the name “1” existed only 450 million years after the Big Bang. The galaxy named “2” existed 350 million years after the Big Bang. (NASA, ESA, CSA, Tommaso Trio (UC), Zolt G. Levay (STScI) via AP)

NASA’s Webb Space Telescope is finding bright early galaxies hitherto hidden from view, including galaxies that may have formed just 350 million years after the cosmic Big Bang.


If the results are verified, astronomers said Thursday, this newly discovered group of stars will surpass the most distant galaxy identified by the Hubble Space Telescope, the record-holder that formed 400 million years after the beginning of the universe.

The Webb telescope, launched last December as successor to the Hubble telescope, indicates that stars may have formed sooner than previously thought — perhaps within a few million years of creation.

Webb’s latest discoveries are detailed in Astrophysical Journal Letters by an international team led by Rohan Naidu of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The article explains the two exceptionally vividly galaxiesthe first believed to have formed 350 million years after the Big Bang and another 450 million years after it.

Naidoo said more infrared observations by Webb were needed before he could claim the new distance record holder.

Although some researchers have reported that they have discovered galaxies closer to the creation of the universe 13.8 billion years ago, these candidates have not yet been verified, as scientists confirmed at a NASA press conference. They indicated that some of them may be later galaxies that mimic earlier galaxies.

The Webb Space Telescope discovers early galaxies hidden from Hubble

This image made available by the Space Telescope Science Institute on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, shows a protostar within the dark cloud L1527 embedded within a cloud of material that fuels its growth, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. Ejections from the star have cleared out the cavities above and below it, the borders of which glow orange and blue in this infrared view. The area in the lower right is shown in blue, with less dust between it and the web than the orange areas above it. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Joseph DiPasquale (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI), Anton M. Koikemore (STScI) via AP)

“This is a very dynamic time,” said Garth Illingworth of the University of California, Santa Cruz, a co-author of the article published Thursday. “There’s been a lot of first announcements about older galaxies, and we’re still trying to sort out as a community which ones are likely to be real.”

The evidence presented so far is “strong as it gets” for the galaxy, which is believed to have formed 350 million years after the Big Bang, said Tommaso Trio of UCLA, senior scientist for Webb’s Science Early Launch program.

The Webb Space Telescope discovers early galaxies hidden from Hubble

This composite image provided by NASA on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, shows the Pillars of Creation as imaged by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 2014, left, and NASA’s James Webb Telescope, right. New near-infrared vision from the James Webb Space Telescope is helping us look through more dust into the star-forming region, according to NASA. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI via AP

If the results are verified and there are more early galaxies, Raido and his team write that Webb “will prove very successful in pushing the cosmic frontier to the brink of the Big Bang.”

“When and how the first galaxies formed remains one of the most intriguing questions,” they said in their paper.

The Webb Space Telescope discovers early galaxies hidden from Hubble

This image released by NASA on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, shows the Pillars of Creation, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope in a near-infrared view. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI via AP

These galaxies “were hiding under the limits of what Hubble could do,” noted NASA’s Jane Rigby, a project scientist with Webb.

“They were there waiting for us,” she told reporters. “So it’s a happy surprise that there are so many of these galaxies to study.”

The $10 billion observatory — the world’s largest and most powerful telescope ever built — is located in solar orbit a million miles (1.6 million km) from Earth. Full science operations began over the summer, and NASA has since released a series of dazzling snapshots of the universe.

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the quote: Webb Space Telescope Discovers Hidden Early Galaxies from Hubble (2022, November 24), Retrieved November 24, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-11-webb-space-telescope-early-galaxies.html

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