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'Dead' galaxy in the early universe surprises astronomers

'Dead' galaxy in the early universe surprises astronomers

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Using the James Webb Telescope, researchers have discovered an undiscovered galaxy in the young universe. It could be the oldest of its kind.

CAMBRIDGE – Astronomers have discovered a new galaxy: Using the James Webb Telescope, researchers have examined the young universe and found the previously undiscovered galaxy. What's special about it: The galaxy is said to be already dead, and may be the oldest galaxy of its kind ever observed, and just last year, astronomers found what is supposed to be the oldest galaxy in the universe.

It is not clear to astronomers why star formation suddenly stopped in the discovered galaxy

Galaxies are made up of stars, gas clouds, dust, dark matter, and planets bound together by gravity. The newly discovered galaxy, named Jades-GS-Z7-01-QU, is believed to have existed when the universe was only 700 million years old. At this time – 700 million years after the Big Bang – stars suddenly stopped forming in the galaxy in question, which is why it is also called a dead galaxy. The surprising thing: The record was previously set 1.2 billion years after the Big Bang. The newly discovered galaxy is much older.

The researchers published the results in the English-language journal nature. The James Webb Telescope has been providing dazzling impressions from space since 2022. The discovery of a dead galaxy so early in the young universe surprised astronomers, as they themselves say. It is unclear why star formation in Jades-GS-Z7-01-QU suddenly stopped.

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A galaxy stops forming stars when a black hole forms

“The first few hundred million years of the universe was a very active phase, in which many gas clouds collapsed and formed new stars,” Tobias Loeser of the Kavli Institute of Cosmology, lead author of the study, says in a statement. notice. “Galaxies need a rich supply of gas to form new stars, and the early universe was an all-you-can-eat buffet.” Co-author Dr. “Only later in the universe do we see galaxies stop forming stars, whether through a black hole or something else,” adds Francesco DiEugenio, also of the Kavli Institute of Cosmology.

Using NASA telescopes, astronomers can discover new galaxies. © NASA/ESA/Hubble/Bulletin

Star formation would have been halted in the newly discovered galaxy due to its lack of gas. A supermassive black hole or star-forming feedback could compress gas outside the galaxy, halting the formation of new stars. However, a galaxy can also “starve” by using up more gas during star formation than it can replenish with fresh gas. Astronomers cannot yet say with certainty what is the exact reason for the discovered dead galaxy. According to the researchers, it is possible that stars formed again in a later era.

Astronomers continue to monitor the dead galaxy

“To understand the early universe, we previously used models based on the modern universe. But now that we can see much further into the past and notice that star formation in this galaxy went out very quickly, models may need Based on the modern universe to be reconsidered.

The dead galaxy will now be observed more closely because “direct observation of quiescent galaxies in the young Universe is of great importance for our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution,” Loeser emphasizes. Since light takes time to travel great distances in space, looking through a telescope is always a look into the past. The further away a celestial body is from Earth, the further back it looks. (rr)