(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers have discovered six massive galaxies in the early universe.
“These objects are much more massive than anyone expected,” said Joel Leja, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Pennsylvania.
“We expected to find only tiny, young, nascent galaxies at this point in time, but we found galaxies as mature as our own in what was previously thought to be the birth of the universe.”
The James Webb Space Telescope is equipped with infrared sensing instruments capable of detecting the light emitted by the most ancient stars and galaxies.
In essence, the telescope allows scientists to look back about 13.5 billion years, closer to the beginning of the universe as we know it.
Using the first set of data released by Webb, scientists have found objects that date back to about 500 to 700 million years after the Big Bang. The researchers say these objects are as mature as our own Milky Way.
“This is our first time looking back this far, so it’s important that we keep an open mind about what we’re seeing,” Leia said.
“Although the data indicate that they are most likely galaxies, I think there is a real possibility that some of these objects will be hidden by supermassive black holes.
Be that as it may, the amount of mass we have found means that the known mass of stars in this period of our universe is 100 times greater than we previously thought.
Even if we cut the sample in half, it’s still a startling change.”
The researchers present evidence that six galaxies are much more massive than anyone expected and challenge what scientists previously understood about galaxy formation at the very beginning of the universe.
Leia explained that the galaxies the team discovered are so massive that they contradict 99% of cosmological models.
Accounting for such a large amount of mass would require either a change in the models of cosmology, or a revision of the scientific understanding of the formation of galaxies in the early Universe.
Either scenario requires a fundamental shift in our understanding of how the universe came into being.
Leah says one way to confirm the team’s discovery and remove any remaining doubts would be to take a spectral image of massive galaxies.
This would give the team data on true distances, as well as gases and other elements that make up galaxies.
The team could then use the data to model a clearer picture of what galaxies looked like and how massive they really were.
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