(ORDO NEWS) — The ancient galaxies seen by the James Webb Space Telescope are incredibly massive for their time.
So far, it is completely unclear how they could have arisen in a universe that has not been even a billion years old.
It is believed that the first galaxies began to appear only a couple of hundred million years after the Big Bang. However, none of them were as massive and complexly structured as today.
They were formed by the merger of smaller galaxies, and this process stretched over billions of years. However, James Webb’s new observations contradict such views of our universe’s past.
The James Webb Space Telescope immediately discovered six galaxies that existed already 500-700 million years after the Big Bang and at the same time had masses up to hundreds of billions of solar masses.
The discovery was made as part of a scientific program to study the early Universe CEERS.
The authors note that the total mass of these galaxies exceeds the entire mass of the Universe at that time, at least according to modern concepts.
“The first thought was that this was some kind of mistake,” said Ivo Labbe, “but despite all attempts, it was not possible to find it.”
“These objects are much more massive than you might expect,” added Joel Leja, another of the authors of the new work.
“We expected to see small, young galaxies, but found galaxies as mature as ours, in the era that is considered to be the very beginning of the universe.”
Indeed, the masses of these galaxies are approaching the Milky Way (1.5 trillion solar masses), the formation of which took more than ten billion years.
Perhaps their most curious difference from modern large galaxies was their small size. So, one of the galaxies contains almost as many stars as ours, but at the same time it is 30 times more compact than it.
Such a high-profile find will still need to be verified to confirm the scientists’ estimates.
The authors note that it is possible that some of the six amazing objects are not galaxies, but forming supermassive black holes.
All this will be shown by new observations, although astronomers are already confident that their discovery will change our understanding of the early Universe and the birth of the first galaxies.
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