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The first galaxies may have formed earlier than expected

The first galaxies may have formed earlier than expected

Within a few months, the new James Webb telescope had located many young galaxies. These formed “earlier than we thought,” explains the astronomy professor.

The first galaxies may have formed earlier than astronomers previously thought, according to early observations from the new James Webb Space Telescope, which in just a few months has shaken up scientific understanding of the universe.

“Somehow, the universe managed to form galaxies faster and earlier than we thought,” said Tommaso Treu, a professor of astronomy at UCLA.

One of the main tasks of the James Webb Telescope, which is in its fifth month of observations, is to study the first galaxies that formed after the Big Bang, which occurred 13.8 billion years ago.

“This is a surprise”

Based on elaborate cosmological models, scientists thought finding them “would take time,” said astrophysicist Cihan Kartaltepe.

However, in just a few months, James Webb had already identified several new, young galaxies, including one that existed only 350 million years after the Big Bang, 50 million years short of the previous record.

Jeyhan Kartaltepe commented: “It’s a surprise that there are so many who formed so early.”

No one would have believed that the Dark Ages would end so soon.

Besides their number, scientists were struck by one thing: their high luminosity. “We immediately come to the conclusion that they are massive, and this raises a real mystery: How did they manage to form so many stars in such a short time?”

To be able to do that, “these galaxies would have to start forming perhaps only 100 million years after the Big Bang,” he explained. “Nobody would have believed that the Dark Ages would end so quickly.”

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An alternative hypothesis might be that these galaxies actually harbor so-called 3 stars, which are very different from the ones we know. These first stars, unusually bright, were so far only theoretical, not observed.

The amazing capabilities of the James Webb Telescope have also revealed the appearance of some of these galaxies.

Thanks to this new observatory, “we are really on track to fulfill this dream of understanding the galaxies of the earliest times,” exclaims Garth Illingworth.