Webb telescope discovers ancient galaxy built like the Milky Way

Webb telescope discovers ancient galaxy built like the Milky Way

Webb telescope discovers ancient galaxy built like the Milky Way

Hubble (left) and Webb (right) images of EGS 23205 at near- and mid-infrared wavelengths.

The latest target of the Webb Space Telescope is one previously imaged by Hubble: the distant barred spiral galaxy EGS23205. Goals like these will advance our understanding of the early universe and how ancient stars and galaxies formed.

The two images above show EGS23205 as seen by Hubble and Webb. Hubble’s image of the galaxy (taken in near-infrared) is much noisier and the structure of the galaxy is more difficult to discern. But Webb’s image (at mid-infrared wavelengths) is much sharper, revealing a bright bar of stars extending from the galactic center.

Stellar bars are huge galactic cross-sections composed of countless stars. The beams play an important role in galactic evolution; they push gas toward the galactic center, help fuel star formation, and feed the supermassive black holes that reside in galactic nuclei. Our own Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy.

Analysis of the image was submitted last year to the preprint server arXiv. Webb has imaged many ancient galaxies in his six-month scientific operations.

Some of Webb’s goals are are among the earliest galaxies observed to dateand they appear to Webb as if they were only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang (the universe is now nearly 14 billion years old).

Webb telescope reveals Milky Way-like galaxies in young universe

EGS23205 is seen as it was about 11 billion years ago. The image shows that even early galaxies had well-defined bars (spirals were previously thought to be much later arrivals in the universe).

“The bars barely visible in Hubble data just showed up in the JWST image, demonstrating the tremendous power of JWST to understand the underlying structure. galaxiesShardha Jogee, an astronomer at UT Austin and co-author of the study, said in a press release.

Webb has previously imaged other objects once captured by Hubble. In Octoberthe new $10 billion observatory beheld the Pillars of Creation, enormous plumes of gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula. In the same month, the Webb team produced an image of merging galaxies 270 million light-years from Earth, captured by Hubble in 2008.

The two space telescopes observe largely at different wavelengths – Hubble mainly at visible wavelengths and Webb mainly in the infrared and near-infrared. Webb’s vibrant craft is built on Hubble’s mechanical shoulders. Picture side by side comparisons show the differences in these impressive observatories, and what is possible with the latest technology.

More: the year ahead in astronomy

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