Tech UPTechnologyJames Webb observes the oldest galaxy in the universe

James Webb observes the oldest galaxy in the universe


There is no doubt that many fantastic surprises await us thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the international project of NASA in collaboration with ESA and the CSA (Canadian Space Agency). Now, an object called GLASS-z13, could be the farthest galaxy yet . It is another of the first scientific results published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters that is awaiting peer review and that, in the meantime, we can read on the ArXiv preprint server.

The galaxy, 13.5 billion years old, is the oldest in the universe seen by human eyes. Called GLASS-z13 (GN-z13), it formed just 300 million years after the Big Bang that occurred 13.7 billion years ago (when there were no stars or galaxies yet).


Breaking records every day

Just weeks into its mission, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has broken the record for the oldest galaxy ever observed by nearly 100 million years.

James Webb uses a wide range of infrared light to ‘see’ in time, which is done by analyzing the time it takes for light to travel through space. And this could be the oldest galaxy ever seen. This distant galaxy was discovered together with another very distant one, GLASS-z11, whose light comes from 420 million years after the Big Bang. These objects suggest that there could be a population of very bright galaxies that formed many stars very quickly.

The article, published on arXiv, points out that both galaxies have a mass of a billion suns, which is because they formed shortly after the Big Bang. The team suggests that this occurred when galaxies were growing and gobbling up stars in the region.

“These two objects already impose new constraints on the evolution of galaxies at the time of cosmic dawn. They indicate that the discovery of GNz11 was not simply a matter of good luck, but that there is likely to be a population of UV light sources with very high star formation efficiencies capable of compiling,” the authors explain.

The Big Bang

If these galaxies are confirmed at these distances, it would suggest that there are many more bright old galaxies waiting to be detected by JWST , and that the space telescope will push the cosmic frontier of infrared astronomy only a few hundred million years from the Big Bang.

Exactly when the first galaxies arose is currently unknown: the previous oldest identified galaxy, found by the Hubble Space Telescope, is called GN-z11 and dates to 400 million years after the birth of the universe.

The infrared observatory in orbit from December 2021 is designed to be about 100 times more powerful than its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope. James Webb has cost more than 10 billion dollars and is the largest and most powerful orbiting space telescope in the world, capable of looking back 100-200 million years after the Big Bang.

The James Webb Telescope and most of its instruments have an operating temperature of approximately -233 Celsius.

Referencia: Two Remarkably Luminous Galaxy Candidates at z≈11−13 Revealed by JWST

Rohan P. Naidu, Pascal A. Oesch, Pieter van Dokkum, Erica J. Nelson, Katherine A. Suess, Katherine E. Whitaker, Natalie Allen, Rachel Bezanson, Rychard Bouwens, Gabriel Brammer, Charlie Conroy, Garth Illingworth, Ivo Labbe, Joel Leja, Ecaterina Leonova, Jorryt Matthee, Sedona H. Price, David J. Setton, Victoria Strait, Mauro Stefanon, Sandro Tacchella, Sune Toft, John R. Weaver, Andrea Weibel The Astrophysical Journal Letters 2022 DOI:


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