Oldest known galaxies spotted by James Webb Space Telescope

Oldest known galaxies spotted by James Webb Space Telescope

Oldest known galaxies spotted by James Webb Space Telescope

A group of international astronomers has used data from the James Webb Space Telescope to report the discovery of the earliest galaxies confirmed to date.

In work that NASA noted has not yet been peer-reviewed, the scientists found that light from these galaxies took more than 13.4 billion years to reach Earth because the galaxies date back to less than 400 million years ago after the big bang.

Previous data from Webb had yielded candidates for young galaxies, and the targets have been confirmed by spectroscopic observations.

Those observations revealed characteristic and distinctive patterns in the light emitted by the faint galaxies.

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Oldest known galaxies spotted by James Webb Space Telescope

The Webb Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) focused on the area in and around the Ultra Deep Field of the Hubble Space Telescope. Using Webb’s NIRCam instrument, scientists observed the field in nine different infrared wavelength ranges. Based on these images (shown on the left), the team looked for faint galaxies that are visible in the infrared, but whose spectra cut off abruptly at a critical wavelength known as the “Lyman break.” Webb’s NIRSpec instrument then provided an accurate measure of each galaxy’s redshift (shown at right). Four of the galaxies studied are particularly special, as they were revealed to be in an unprecedented early epoch. These galaxies date from less than 400 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only 2% of its current age. In the background image, blue represents light of 1.15 microns (115 W), green is 2.0 microns (200 W), and red is 4.44 microns (444 W). In the cropped images, blue is a combination of 0.9 and 1.15 microns (090W+115W), green is 1.5 and 2.0 microns (150W+200W), and red is 2.0, 2.77, and 4 .44 microns (200W+277W+444W).
(Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI, M. Zamani (ESA/Webb), L. Hustak (STScI). Science: B. Robertson (UCSC), S. Tacchella (Cambridge), E. Curtis-Lake ( Hertfordshire), S. Carniani (Scuola Normale Superiore), and the JADES Collaboration)

Using observations from the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) program, the observations focused on the area in and around the Ultra Deep Field of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Starting with the telescope’s near-infrared cameraor NIRCam, the JADES program used more than 10 days of mission time to observe the field in nine different infrared colors.

In images, the youngest galaxies can be distinguished by the light stretched in wavelength by a factor of up to 14.

GREENBELT, MD - NOVEMBER 02: Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope on November 2, 2016 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

GREENBELT, MD – NOVEMBER 02: Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope on November 2, 2016 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
((Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images))

NASA said the astronomers were looking for faint galaxies that are visible in the infrared but whose light cuts off abruptly at a critical wavelength.

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The agency noted that the location of the boundary within each galaxy’s spectrum is shifted by the expansion of the universe.

Then, over three days using the Near-Infrared Spectrograph instrument, the team collected the light from 250 faint galaxies, studying the patterns on the spectrum by the atoms in each galaxy, resulting in an accurate measurement of each galaxy’s redshift. and revealing the properties of the gas and stars in those galaxies.

This image, taken with the James Webb Space Telescope, highlights the research area of ​​the Webb Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES).  This region is located in and around the Ultra Deep Field of the Hubble Space Telescope.  Scientists used Webb's NIRCam instrument to observe the field in nine different infrared wavelength ranges.  Based on these images, the team looked for faint galaxies that are visible in the infrared, but whose spectra are abruptly cut off at a critical wavelength.  They performed additional observations (not shown here) with Webb's NIRSpec instrument to measure the redshift of each galaxy and reveal the properties of the gas and stars in these galaxies.  In this image, blue represents light of 1.15 microns (115W), green is 2.0 microns (200W), and red is 4.44 microns (444W).

This image, taken with the James Webb Space Telescope, highlights the research area of ​​the Webb Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES). This region is located in and around the Ultra Deep Field of the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists used Webb’s NIRCam instrument to observe the field in nine different infrared wavelength ranges. Based on these images, the team looked for faint galaxies that are visible in the infrared, but whose spectra are abruptly cut off at a critical wavelength. They performed additional observations (not shown here) with Webb’s NIRSpec instrument to measure the redshift of each galaxy and reveal the properties of the gas and stars in these galaxies. In this image, blue represents light of 1.15 microns (115W), green is 2.0 microns (200W), and red is 4.44 microns (444W).
(Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA and M. Zamani (ESA/Webb). Science: B. Robertson (UCSC), S. Tacchella (Cambridge), E. Curtis-Lake (Hertfordshire), S. Carniani (School Normal Superior), and the JADES Collaboration.)

Four of the galaxies were found to be unprecedentedly early, with redshifts greater than 10, or when the universe was about 330 million years old.

“For the first time, we didn’t discover galaxies until 350 million years after the Big Bang, and we can be absolutely sure of their fantastic distances,” co-author Brant Robertson, of the University of California Santa Cruz and a member of the NIRCam science team, said. “It’s a special experience to find these early galaxies in such stunningly beautiful images.”

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Next year, JADES will continue with a detailed study of another field, this time focusing on the iconic Hubble Deep Field.



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