Webb reveals never-before-seen details of the early universe

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was specifically designed to detect faint infrared radiation from very distant galaxies and allows astronomers to peer into the early universe.

The nature of galaxies in this early period of our universe is not well known and little understood.

But with the help of gravitational lensing of galaxy clusters, it is possible to magnify faint galaxies in the background many times over, as well as to reveal them in different parts of the image.

Members of the group are: Dan Coe of AURA/STScI of the European Space Agency and Johns Hopkins University; Tiger Xiao of Johns Hopkins University; and Rebecca Larson of the University of Texas at Austin.

These scientists are using Webb to observe the distant galaxy MACS0647-JD, and they’ve found something interesting.

“I discovered the MACS0647-JD galaxy 10 years ago with the Hubble Space Telescope. At the time, I had never worked with high redshift galaxies.

But then I found this galaxy, which was potentially the most distant, at a redshift of 11, which is about 97 percent of the Big Bang,” Dan Coe said.

“Hubble gave out just a pale red dot. It was clear that it was a small, just a tiny galaxy in the first 400 million years of the existence of the universe.

Now we are looking through Webb and we can distinguish TWO objects. We are actively discussing what it is – two galaxies or two clusters of stars inside a galaxy? We don’t know yet, but Webb was made to help answer exactly those questions.”

Tiger Yu-Yang Xiao: “You can also see that the colors between the two objects are different. One is blue, the other is red. Blue gas and red gas have different characteristics.

Blue has very young star formations and almost no dust, however the small red object has more dust inside and is older. And their stellar masses are probably different too.”

“It is very interesting that we see two structures in such a small system. We may be seeing galaxy mergers in the very early universe. If this turns out to be the most distant merger, I will be delighted!”

Dan Coe: “Due to the gravitational lensing of the massive galaxy cluster MACS0647, it splits into three images: JD1, JD2 and JD3. They are increased by eight, five and two times respectively.”

Rebecca Larson: “Until now, we could not study the galaxies of the early Universe in detail. Before Webb, we only had a few dozen galaxies.

Studying them can help us understand how they evolved into the galaxies we have today. And also how the universe evolved.”

“What I love the most is that in so many of the new Webb images that we are getting, if you look at the background, you can see all these little dots – and these are galaxies! Each of them.

It’s amazing how much information we didn’t get before. And it’s not deep space. We didn’t even really try to use this telescope to look at one point for a long time. This is just the beginning.”


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