New NASA telescope reveals never-before-seen details of the early Universe, within 400 million years of the Big Bang
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals new galaxies that astronomers have never seen before, deep in the early Universe.
Astronomers recently pointed JWST to an object called MACS0647-JD. It is extremely far away and light takes time to travel, so looking at such a distant object is also looking back in time. MACS0647-JD is about 97% of the way back to the Big Bang, within the first 400 million years of the universe.
Dan Coe, a researcher at the Space Telescope Science Institute, first discovered it 10 years ago with the Hubble Space Telescope, previously NASA’s most powerful space observatory.
“With Hubble, it was just this pale red dot. We could see it was very small, just a small galaxy in the first 400 million years of the universe. Now we’re looking with Webb and we’re able to pick up TWO objects.” unloading,” said Coe in an Oct NASA release.
JWST is 100 times more powerful than Hubble, and its infrared lens allows it to peer much further into the deep universe and the distant past. By comparing the new JWST image with previous images from Hubble, astronomers discovered new features of one of the oldest galaxies ever seen.
Both Hubble and JWST study the early universe through gravitational lensing. That’s what happens when a cluster of distant galaxies is so massive that it distorts space-time and bends the light from distant galaxies behind it. That creates mirror images of those galaxies, which are reflected back to us.
So the imprint of the mysterious MACS0647-JD system appears in three places in the images above. Breakouts of those three images of the JD system, on the right, show how much clearer the images of JWST are. They clearly show two different objects.
“We’re actively debating whether these are two galaxies or two groups of stars in a galaxy. We don’t know, but these are the questions Webb is designed to help us answer,” Coe said.
The research has not yet been published, but the difference between the images is large.
JWST Could Reveal Galaxy Merging and Other Unseen Action in the Early Universe
One of the objects is more blue, indicating that relatively young stars are being formed in it. The other is redder, indicating an older object with more dust between the stars.
“We may be witnessing a merger of galaxies in the very early Universe. If this is the most distant merger I’ll be really ecstatic,” said Tiger Yu-Yang Hsiao, a PhD student who studied the images with Coe, in the NASA release.
JWST is likely to reveal even more distant galaxies from the very beginning of the Universe. That will help scientists piece together the history missing in the first 400 million years.
“Until now, we haven’t really been able to study galaxies in the early Universe in great detail. We only had dozens of them before Webb. Studying them allows us to understand how they evolved into the galaxy we live in today. And also, how the universe has evolved through time,” said Rebecca Larson, another doctoral student who studied the images, in the NASA release.
She pointed out all the other tiny dots in the new JWST image — each of them a distant galaxy.
“It’s amazing how much information we’re getting that we just couldn’t see before,” she said, adding, “And this isn’t a deep field. This isn’t a long exposure. We didn’t even really try to use this telescope for a long time.” to look at one place. This is just the beginning!”
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