NASA’s James Webb Telescope photographed 3 galaxies that gave rise to the universe | Science

NASA’s James Webb Telescope photographed 3 galaxies that gave rise to the universe | Science
NASA’s James Webb Telescope photographed 3 galaxies that gave rise to the universe | Science

The James Webb Telescope showed how galaxies formed in the early universe. Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted

“Where do we come from,” humanity asks. To answer this existential question, NASA launched the James Webb telescope into the cosmos. With a total budget of $10 billion, the space observatory, successor to the historic Hubble, has managed to photograph three of the first galaxies in the early universe, from about 13 billion years ago, shortly after the Big Bang.

Astronomers from the Niels Bohr Institute (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) achieved this feat. “While James Webb had previously shown us early galaxies in later stages of evolution, here we witness his birth and therefore the construction of the first star systems in the universe,” declared the professor. Kasper Elm Heintz, an expert who led the observations and who also belongs to the Cosmic Dawn Center (DAWN).

The James Webb Telescope was launched into space on December 25, 2021. Photo: NASA

What are the galaxies photographed by the James Webb telescope that gave rise to the universe?

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have taken up the task of analyzing data from the James Webb telescope, the observatory launched into space in 2021 with the potential to discover the best-kept secrets of the cosmos. The three galaxies date back to when the universe was only between 400 to 600 million years old (3% or 4% of its total life). Yes, it may seem like a very long period, but in astronomical terms it is not so long. The closer we get to the beginning of the Big Bang, the capturing of images will take on a greater value due to its high level of difficulty.

The technology of James Webb, qualified by the POT As a “time machine”, it allows surprising images to be stored through its spectroscopy instruments, that is, cameras with sensitivity to observe in infrared spectra. Thus, they saw that galaxies are surrounded by gas, probably only hydrogen and helium in more than 99% of their density. That gas, in turn, reports the US space agency, could have formed other star clusters.

The NIRSpec instrument, James Webb’s tool that observes the universe in the infrared spectrum. Photo: Astrium GmbH

“We are moving away from an image of galaxies as isolated ecosystems. At this stage in the history of the universe, all galaxies are intimately connected to the intergalactic medium with its filaments and structures of pristine gas,” explained Simone Nielsen, co-author of the study. , published on the Arxiv platform.

How were galaxies formed in the early universe, according to NASA?

Researcher Darach Watson, professor at the DAWN center and co-author of the study, has provided data on the observation of galaxies captured by the Webb space telescope, photographed as diffuse red spots. In subsequent analyses, they noted that the light from these galaxies is being absorbed by thick clouds of neutral hydrogen gas.

Watson explained that this gas appears to spread widely, covering much of the clusters of stars, indicating a process in which neutral hydrogen was accumulating in them. Over time, this gas cools, condenses, and leads to the formation of new stars.

The Reonization era ended 12.8 billion years ago. The probe, above, shows a red wave that shows how far we have been able to see in the past. Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joyce Kang

This phenomenon is situated in a particular cosmic context, during the first hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang, in an era known as the Reionization. During this period, the gas between stars and galaxies was opaque, and only began to become transparent 1 billion years after the big bang.

Recent discoveries about galaxies in the early stages of the universe were made possible by the Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science (CEERS) survey, conducted with the Webb Space Telescope. This program included the analysis of spectra of distant galaxies obtained through the Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) of Hubble’s successor.

How is the Hubble Space Telescope different from the James Webb?

The difference that marks the most distance between Hubble and James Webb is the size of their mirrors. The Hubble probe panel measures only 2.4 m; In that sense, its successor reaches 6.5 m, with 18 hexagonal pieces of beryllium.

James Webb scans the universe in the infrared spectrum, which is why he captures galaxies at extreme distances. In contrast, Hubble operates at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths, a technique that has taken a back seat in current technology.

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