Since it started operating last year, the James Webb Telescope has improved our ability to see celestial objects and revealed features that were previously hidden. Now, a study done by an international team of astrophysicists suggests that it may also fundamentally alter our comprehension of the universe.
Six possible galaxies that developed just 500–700 million years after the Big Bang were discovered by the researchers after they examined photos captured by the telescope near the Great Dipper. The team’s calculations suggest that they may contain as many stars as the Milky Way, which is what makes them peculiar rather than the fact that they could be almost 13 billion years old.
According to current cosmological theory, they shouldn’t exist because there shouldn’t have been enough matter present at the time for the galaxies to create as many stars as our galaxy does.
The photos revealed to the scientists a few hazy but incredibly bright spots of light that, to our detectors, appear red, indicating that they are old.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) February 22, 2023
One of the study’s authors, Joel Leja, told Space that while young, blue galaxies appear to us as “things which have just recently evolved out of the primordial cosmic soup,” scientists normally anticipate to find them when looking into the distant past. (Remember that it takes time for light to reach Earth; therefore, when we observe telescopic images, we are essentially looking back in time.)
It Poses Challenges For Science
“For the first time, we peered into the very early universe without knowing what we would discover. It turns out that what we discovered is so unforeseen that it actually poses challenges for science. It casts doubt on the theory of early galaxy formation as a whole “said Leja.
Much older galaxies that originated some 350 million years after the Big Bang were earlier photographed by James Webb. They are little, though, and pose no threat to our understanding of astrophysics.
These six galaxies were producing hundreds of stars each year early after the Great Bang, which explains why they appear old and huge. The Milky Way, in contrast, barely produces one to two new stars year. Nevertheless, while having as many stars as our galaxy, these prospective galaxies are around 30 times smaller and more compact.
The scientists acknowledge that it’s possible that the hazy red specks they saw were something else, such as supermassive black holes or feeble quasars. In contrast to the estimated size the scientists obtained from their calculations, they might actually be smaller. The group believes they might get official confirmation sometime next year, but they still need more information and spectroscopy to corroborate their findings.
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