Ancient galaxies are much further away than the James Webb telescope shows us

(ORDO NEWS) — The James Webb Telescope (JWST) recently released the deepest, highest resolution image of the universe in which humans were amazed by distant galaxies gravitationally lensed by the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723.

Light from one of these galaxies appeared 13.1 billion years ago. However, many were surprised to learn that the galaxy is not 13.1 billion light-years away. In fact, it is much further away – 30 billion light years. What’s the matter?

Looking deeper into the Universe means looking into the past. This is due to the finiteness of the speed of light. Take, for example, Betelgeuse.

The red giant is the right shoulder of the constellation Orion, located at a distance of about 550 light years. This means that the light we see now actually originated half a millennium ago.

Generally, for galactic distances, you can convert the time it takes light to get here to light years. This also works for intergalactic distances in the local universe itself.

So, the light from the Andromeda galaxy traveled 2.5 million years, and the large spiral galaxy is indeed 2.5 million light years away.

Ancient galaxies are much further away than the James Webb telescope shows us 2

But once objects start to be a few billion light-years away, this equation no longer works. Take, for example, SMACS 0723, the cluster at the center of the JWST image.

Its light comes from 4.6 billion years ago, but its actual distance from us today is nearly a billion light years longer. This is due to the ongoing expansion of the universe.

As light spreads, the universe slowly but surely expands. When it comes to large intergalactic distances, the universe has been expanding for a long time.

When we get to objects whose light comes from a time very close to the beginning of the universe, then we get these huge distances.

This brings us to another important question: how big is the visible universe? The most distant objects we can see in any direction are about 46.5 billion light years away, which is 93 billion light years in the entire universe.

Well, more or less, because these measurements depend on the cosmological properties of the universe. We are currently in a quandary when we try to measure something in it.

Different methods of measuring the rate of expansion of the Universe give different numbers, which then affect all other measurements.

But at the end of the day, this is science: a constant process of improving our methods, our models and the way we measure.


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