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The James Webb Space Telescope discovers the oldest galaxy ever observed

Image caption – NASA Images /

Just weeks after the official start of its mission, the James Webb Space Telescope broke the record for the oldest galaxy ever observed by nearly 100 million years.

GLASS-z13 and GN-z11

Observe some of the first galaxies formed after the great explosion13.8 billion years ago, one of the main goals of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which was recently shown to us Unprecedented insight into different regions of the universe. To date, the oldest known name is called GN-z11 Discovered by its predecessor Hubble, it appeared about 400 million years after the birth of the universe.

This record may have just been shattered. As part of previously published works on the server arXivRohan Naidoo of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics Older galaxy By peeling data from JWST’s GLASS catalog. Named GLASS-z13, this galaxy formed just 300 million years after the Big Bang. A second baptized GLASS-z11 has also been identified and its age is close to GN-z11.

These two galaxies already possessed at that time Masses equal to a billion suns, indicating a faster-than-expected star formation process at the dawn of the universe. It also appears that the nearest galaxy, GLASS-z11, has begun to form a disk-like structure, linked to its rotation. While the Milky Way extends about 100,000 light-years, the diameters of GLASS-z13 and GLASS-z11 are found to be 1,600 light-years and 2,300 light-years, respectively.

James Webb Space Telescope
Artist’s impression of the James Webb Space Telescope – © NASA

At the dawn of the universe

GLASS team member Gabriel Brammer believes that further analysis will be needed to confirm the distance at which these two galaxies are (or rather were) that only JWST will be able to achieve. ” They are very credible candidates “, Confirms. ” If we know that JWST will be able to spot distant galaxies, the ease with which it detects them is surprising.. »

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The enormous power of the space telescope should significantly increase the frequency of such discoveries. According to the study’s authors, an examination of its data likely leads to less than 200 million years after the Big Bang, when some of the first galaxies and stars in the universe formed.

When exactly does star formation begin in the universe? asks Naidu. ” It is one of the last great unknowns in our universe timeline.. »