The Webb telescope discovers an ‘incredible’ galaxy from the edge of time

In a recent study is added MNRASa collaborative research team used the first set of data from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and discovered a galaxy candidate, CEERS-93316, that formed about 250 million years after the Bing Bang, which also set a new redshift record of z = 16.7. This finding is extremely exciting as it demonstrates the power of JWST, which only began sending back its first set of data a few weeks ago. CEERS stood for Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science Survey and was specially created for imaging with JWST.

“The past few weeks have been surreal, seeing all the long-standing Hubble records being broken by JWST,” said Dr Rebecca Bowler, Ernest Rutherford Fellow at the University of Manchester, and co-author of the study. “Finding an az = 16.7 galaxy candidate is an amazing feeling – it was not something we expected from the early data.”

The James Webb Space Telescope in 2016.Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

This new study references a dozen previous studies that have measured objects up to redshifts z = 10 using a mixture of ground-based observations and with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

“It’s amazing to have found such a distant galaxy candidate already with Webb, given that this is only the first set of data,” says Callum Donnan, a Ph.D. student at the University of Edinburgh and lead author of the study. “It is important to note that to be sure of the redshift, the galaxy must follow up observations using spectroscopy. This is why we refer to it as a galaxy candidate.”

The study determined that CEERS-93316 cannot be a low-mass star or unobstructed active galactic nucleus based on image data from the NIRCam (Near Infrared Camera), which is JWST’s primary imager. Since CEERS-93316 may be only 250 million years old, a goal for cosmologists is to know what happens in galaxies so young and so shortly after the Big Bang.

“After the Big Bang, the universe entered a period known as the Dark Ages, a time before any stars had been born,” Bowler explains. “The observations of this galaxy push observations back to the time when we think the first galaxies that ever existed formed. We have already found more galaxies in the very early universe than computer simulations predicted, so there are clearly many open questions about how and when the first stars and galaxies were formed.”

Given this incredible find in just the first set of data from JWST, it’s exciting to think how much further back in the universe this record-breaking space telescope can see and whether it can see the Big Bang itself.

“In principle, JWST can detect galaxies at redshifts greater than 20, less than 200 million years after the Big Bang,” explains Bowler. “These galaxies are likely to be extremely difficult to find, but the detection of CERRS 93316 gives us hope that they may exist. Watch this space!”

The SMAC image revealed some of the most distant galaxies ever observed. NASA/ESA/CSA

“The most distant phenomenon observed is the cosmic microwave background (CMB) which is the ‘afterglow’ of the Big Bang,” explains Donnan. “The light from the CMB originates approximately 400,000 years after the Big Bang and has been observed by various instruments over the years – particularly The Planck satellite, which was launched in 2009. Webb won’t be able to see back that far, but it is capable of probing the earliest stages of galaxy formation.”

While Donnan and Bowler both stated that no further observations are planned for CEERS-93316, they hope there will be in the future.

Redshift is part of what is known as the Doppler effect, which astronomers use to measure distances in the universe. A frequent example to demonstrate the Doppler effect is the change in sound wave height when a tall object moves towards you and then travels away from you, often with an ambulance or other first aid vehicle. The sound waves when the object moves towards you is known as blueshift, while the opposite is called redshift. This new study set a new redshift record, meaning scientists have measured the most distant object in the universe to date.

This article was originally published on The universe today by Laurence Tognetti. Read the original article here.

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