The most distant galaxy discovered thanks to the James Webb telescope

Just a week after unveiling the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful ever constructed, it may have already found the most distant galaxy ever observed. It existed 13.5 billion years ago.

This galaxy, named GLASS-z13, appears to us “as it was only about 300 million years after the Big Bang, or 100 million years less than the previously observed record.” (read box)said Rohan Naidu of Harvard University’s Center for Astrophysics.

He is the lead author of a study analyzing data from James Webb’s early observations, which is currently underway. This data is published online for all astronomers on the planet. One of the main tasks of this brand new telescope is to observe the first galaxies to form after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.

This study is not yet peer-reviewed, but published as a “preprint” in order to be quickly accessible to the professional world. It has been submitted to a scientific journal for forthcoming publication, Rohan Naidu said. Another team also came to the same conclusions, giving them confidence in the validity of the conclusions of this research.

>> The location of GLASS-z13:

The oldest galaxy in the Universe, GLz-13, was discovered with the James Webb Space Telescope. [Naidu et al. 2022, Castellano et al. 2022/T. True (UCLA) and GLASS-JWST/P. Oesch & G. Brammer (UNIGE & Cosmic Dawn Center, NBI, Uni Copenhagen) – NASA/CSA/ESA/STScl]

Blurred point in the cosmos

The twenty people involved in the study examined two galaxies, the other called GLASS-z11 and is less distant. They have surprising properties: “They look pretty massive,” says Rohan Naidu, and that “very shortly after the Big Bang.” And to add: “This is something we don’t really understand”.

The astrophysicist Pascal Oesch of the Geneva Observatory was also involved in the discovery: he was the one who published the first image – this large fuzzy red circle – of this compact galaxy, located around 300 million years later, has a billion solar masses – that’s a billion Stars. We didn’t expect to find such a massive, bright galaxy at this distance in James Webb’s first data,” he told RTSinfo over the phone. He thought he would have to analyze ten times more data before finding such an object.

“It’s a very good surprise!” Confirming that many galaxies of this type are so close to the Big Bang “will change the way we see the Universe,” he enthuses. The models didn’t predict this kind of finding: we need to verify it, in his opinion, and also try to understand how long ago such a galaxy formed.

>> Astrophysicist Pascal Oesch talks about the discovery of GLASS-z11:

Astrophysicist Pascal Oesch on the discovery of GL-z11 / The Hourly Journal / 2 min. / Today at 05:04

Impossible to say at the moment: “There is still work to be done,” said Rohan Naidu, who also noted Twitter“These two galaxies could already reveal something fascinating to us: Already shortly after the Big Bang there are a considerable number of bright galaxies with a billion solar masses.”

And for Pascal Oesch, the record for the oldest galaxy will soon be broken: “It has already formed a billion solar masses … so we must have something before that!”

Stéphanie Jaquet and the ats


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