NASA’s James Webb space telescope is uncovering previously unseen bright early galaxies. It includes one that may have formed just 350 million years after the big bang.
According to astronomers, if the findings are confirmed, this newly discovered throng of stars will outperform the Hubble space telescope’s most distant galaxy. The galaxy which formed 400 million years after the universe began.
The Webb telescope is indicating that stars may have formed sooner than previously thought. It is possibly within a couple million years of the big bang.
An international team led by Rohan Naidu of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics detailed Webb’s latest discoveries in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. The article goes into detail about two exceptionally bright galaxies. The first of which is thought to have formed 350 million years after the big bang and the other 450 million years later.
Naidu stated that more observations in the infrared by Webb would be required before claiming a new record-holder.
Although some researchers claim to have discovered galaxies even closer to the universe’s birth 13.8 billion years ago. But those claims have yet to be confirmed, scientists said at a Nasa news conference. They speculated that some of those could be later galaxies imitating earlier ones.
“This is a very dynamic time,” said Garth Illingworth, a co-author of the article published Thursday at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “There have been a lot of preliminary announcements of even earlier galaxies. And we’re still trying to figure out which ones are likely to be real as a community.”
Tommaso Treu of the University of California, Los Angeles, said the evidence presented so far is “as solid as it gets”. As the galaxy thought to have formed 350 million years after the big bang.
If the findings are confirmed then more early galaxies are discovered. Raidu believe Webb “will be highly successful in pushing the cosmic frontier all the way to the brink of the big bang.”
“One of the most intriguing questions is when and how the first galaxies formed,” the researchers wrote.
Jane Rigby, a project scientist, noted that these galaxies “were hiding just under the limits of what Hubble could do.”
“They were waiting for us right there,” she told reporters. “So it’s a pleasant surprise that there are so many galaxies to study.”