The James Webb telescope turns cosmology on its head: massive galaxies in the early universe cannot be explained by current models.
State College – The galaxies that formed in the Universe after the Big Bang must have been small. At least that’s what astrophysics would expect. But now images from the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) from space organizations NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency appear to be turning that understanding of the universe on its head. A research team has discovered six massive galaxies in the early universe in the images.
The research group was surprised by their discovery: “These objects are much larger than expected,” Joel Lega of Penn State University at State College explains in a statement. LIGA is part of the research team that analyzed the image of the galaxy. It was specialized work for this in the journal nature published. “We expected to find only young, young galaxies at this point, but we have discovered mature galaxies like ours in what was once thought to be the dawn of the universe,” astrophysicist Leja said in one. communication.
The James Webb Space Telescope looks roughly at the Big Bang
The LIGA international research team found the galaxies about 500 to 700 million years after the Big Bang – in cosmic proportions almost immediately after the Big Bang. With its infrared instruments, the James Webb Space Telescope enables researchers to detect light emanating from the oldest stars and galaxies. In this way, the researchers can look back about 13.5 billion years in the past — even before the Big Bang, which according to current models happened about 13.8 billion years ago.
The research team is still not entirely sure that they have actually discovered ancient giant galaxies, because the galaxies can only be seen as tiny red dots in the JWST images. “This is the first look so far back, so it’s important that we open our minds about what we’re seeing,” Lega said. While the data indicates that they are most likely galaxies, the researcher also believes that it is possible that some of these objects could become supermassive black holes.
Giant galaxies contradict cosmological models
“Independently, the amount of mass we detected means that the known mass of stars in this period of our universe is up to 100 times greater than previously thought. Even if we cut the sample in half, it’s still a pretty cool change,” explains Lega. The astrophysicist’s discovery “challenges what many of us thought was scientifically proven.” “We’ve informally referred to these things as ‘universe shatterers’ — and they’ve lived up to their name so far.”
According to the research group, galaxies are so massive that they disagree with 99 percent of all cosmic models. To explain the great mass, one would either have to rewrite cosmological models or revise the scientific understanding of how galaxies formed in the early universe. Until now, cosmology assumed that galaxies start out as small clouds of stars and dust and gradually grow larger.
A very deep look at the early universe reveals surprising things
“We looked at the very early universe for the first time and had no idea what we were going to find,” says Lega. “It turns out that we found something so unexpected that it’s actually a problem for science.” His colleague Ivo Lappi, lead author of the study, recalls working with the recordings: “I ran the analysis software and it spit out two numbers: the distance 13.1 billion light-years, the mass of 100 billion stars, and I almost spit out my coffee. We just discovered the impossible. Impossibly early, galaxies Impossibly huge.”
One way to tell if these are very old galaxies is to take the spectra of individual objects. This will allow researchers to determine the actual distances and also learn what the galaxies are made of. With the help of this data, scientists can also determine how massive the galaxies actually are. “The spectrum will tell us right away whether or not these things are real,” Lega explains. (unpaid bill)
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