James Webb is a time machine and makes history by discovering another ‘special galaxy’

Deepak Gupta August 2, 2022
Updated 2022/08/02 at 4:36 PM

Only two weeks have passed since we read and heard about the discovery, by the James Webb telescope, of what would be, at the time, the oldest and most distant galaxy seen by humans. However, that information may have been a short-lived record.

An international team led by researchers from the edinburgh university identified what may be the oldest and most distant galaxy observed to date.

James Webb brings a new galaxy to be studied very carefully

The new candidate for the oldest observed galaxy is named CEERS-93316 and is located about 35 billion light-years away from us. When it emitted the light we see today, it was already 235 million years after the Big Bang. In other words, the galaxy is over 13.5 billion years old.

This galaxy was detected thanks to the first batch of data published by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) team, which was made available to researchers around the world at the same time that the telescope's first images were released.

According to the responsible team, the discovery, published in ArXiv repository, still awaits peer review and publication in a scientific journal. In the meantime, the team continues to work to obtain more information about the galaxy to confirm the initial results. These analyzes will include a complete spectrographic study of the object.

What does the spectrographic examination show us?

In general, the important thing in these captured images is to understand the importance of color. The spectrographic analysis gains, therefore, a greater relevance. This is because the galaxy once emitted visible light, but as a result of its long journey through space and time, this light drifted into the infrared until it became invisible to the human eye.

However, it is not invisible to the eyes of the Webb telescope, a telescope designed precisely to image at these wavelengths.

Preliminary analyzes tell us that a blue-coloured galaxy, the predominant color among young galaxies - since they are dominated by blue stars - brightens the most, but fades quickly, making way for the longer-lived reddish ones.

Much remains to be revealed of what James Webb sent to Earth

What has been seen from the material that the James Webb Space Telescope has sent to Earth is that discoveries are being made in a chain.

A few weeks ago, GLASS-z13 became the most distant and oldest galaxy ever detected. It was also the first batch of JWST data that identified this galaxy as one of the oldest and most distant.

Image of the galaxy GLASS-z13 captured by James Webb

Image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope of the galaxy GLASS-z13.

Located about 35 billion light-years from us, its image would have been emitted 13.5 billion years ago, when the Universe as we know it was "only" about 500 million years old. To this discovery was added the GLASS-z11which is about 13.4 billion years old.

A few days later, the galaxy Maisie has been identified and would have existed about 280 million years after the Big Bang. The list of ancient galaxies is growing.

These findings are great news because to understand the first few hundred million years of our universe, when galaxies began to form, we need to have a good sample of examples. We went from having just one example of this to at least five. And all this just a few weeks after NASA released the first batch of data from the famous telescope.

But discovering these early galaxies helps to understand what?

Understanding these galaxies will help us solve certain puzzles that these same discoveries have generated. In the case of GLASS-z13, the surprise came from the intensity with which the object glowed, while in this case it may be its less blue color that is fascinating.

According to those responsible for the mission, these galaxies, in certain ways, correspond to our understanding of cosmology. For example, the fact that they look like small, formless masses, that is, without the complex structures that characterize galaxies like ours, presumably formed during billions of years of interactions between smaller, simpler galaxies.

However, such is the pace of surprises that this "title" should not last long in this galaxy. The telescope is a time machine and continues to analyze only the first of the blocks of information that the Webb telescope, which has only been active for a few months, will give us.

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