June 21, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

Webb discovers the most distant galaxy in the universe

James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: NASA

Ibadan, May 31, 2024. – An international team of astronomers using the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope has found an unprecedented galaxy observed just 290 million years after the Big Bang. The team used Webb to observe galaxies as part of the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) program. Using Webb's NIRSpec, the scientists obtained a spectrum of the galaxy that also corresponded to a redshift of about 14.

For the past two years, scientists have used Webb to explore what astronomers call the Cosmic Dawn: the period of the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang where the first galaxies were born. These galaxies generally provide vital information about how gas, stars and black holes changed when the universe was very young.

The team of astronomers used NIRCam data to determine which galaxies to study further with spectroscopic observations. They determined that one of those galaxies, JADES-GS-z14-0, has a redshift of 14.32 (+0.08/-0.20), making it the new record holder for the largest galaxy. distant known. This also corresponds to a time of less than 300 million years after the Big Bang.

Speaking about the discovery, Webb astronomers Stefano Carniani and Kevin Hainline said: “This amount of starlight implies that the galaxy has several hundred million times the mass of the Sun. This raises the question: how can nature create a such a bright, massive and large galaxy in less than 300 million years?

A team of astronomers also recently reported using Webb to discover evidence of an ongoing merger of two galaxies and their enormous black holes when the Universe was only 740 million years old. This marked the most distant detection of a black hole merger and the first time researchers detected this phenomenon early in the Universe.

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