(ORDO NEWS) — Six massive galaxies discovered in the early universe update scientists’ understanding of the origin of galaxies in the universe.
“These objects are much more massive than anyone expected,” said Joel Lezha, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Pennsylvania State, who modeled the light from these galaxies.
“We expected to find only tiny young, baby galaxies at the moment, but found that the galaxies are as mature as our own in what was previously understood to be the dawn of the universe.”
Using the first set of data from NASA‘s James Webb Space Telescope, an international team of scientists discovered objects as mature as the Milky Way when the universe was only 3% of its current age, about 500 to 700 million years after the Big Bang.
The telescope is equipped with infrared instruments capable of detecting the light emitted by the most ancient stars and galaxies.
Essentially, the telescope allows scientists to see about 13.5 billion years in time, near the beginning of the universe as we know it, Leja explained.
“This is our first look at this time, so it’s important to keep an open mind about what we see,” Lezha said.
“Although the data indicates that they are galaxies, I think there is a real possibility that some of these objects will be hidden by supermassive black holes.
Regardless of the amount of mass we have detected from our universe, there is 100 times more than we previously thought. Even if we cut the sample in half, it’s still a startling change.”
“The revelation that the mass formation of the galaxy began extremely early in the history of the universe is reversing what many of us thought was settled science,” Lezha said. “We informally call these objects the destroyers of the universe, and they have lived up to their name so far.”
Lezha explained that the galaxies the team found are so massive that they contradict 99% of cosmology models.
Accounting for such a large amount of mass would require either changing models for cosmology or revisiting the scientific understanding of galaxy formation in the early universe – that galaxies began as small clouds of stars and dust that gradually grew over time.
Either scenario requires a fundamental shift in our understanding of how the universe came into being.
“We were looking at a very early universe for the first time and had no idea what we would find,” Lezha said.
“It turns out that we have found something so unexpected that it actually creates problems for science. This casts doubt on the whole picture of the early formation of galaxies.”
On July 12, NASA released the first full-color images and spectroscopic data from the James Webb Space Telescope.
The largest infrared telescope in space, Webb, was designed to see the genesis of the cosmos, and its high resolution allows it to view objects too old, distant or faint for the Hubble Space Telescope.
“When we received the data, everyone started to dive into work, and these huge things popped up very quickly,” Lezha said.
“We started doing simulations and tried to figure out what they were because they were very big and bright. My first thought was: find that mistake.”
One way to confirm the team’s findings and allay any remaining concerns would be to take a spectral image of massive galaxies.
This would provide the team with data on the true distances, as well as the gas and other elements that made up the galaxies.
The team could then use the data to model a clear picture of what galaxies looked like and how massive they actually were.
“The spectrum will immediately tell us if these things are real,” Lezha said. “He will show how big they are, how far they are.”
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