Astronomers using the James Webb Space Telescope have spotted what they believe may be the most distant galaxy ever seen – a distant red spot 35 billion light-years away.
The galaxy, named CEERS-93316, is depicted as it existed just 235 million years after Big bangusing on the web Close to Infrared connection A camera that can peer back in time to the earliest flickers of the first stars.
The new result, which is still preliminary and has yet to be confirmed by examining the galaxy’s light spectra, has already broken the previous temporary record set by the telescope just a week ago, when another team spotted GLASS-z13, a galaxy that has existed for 400 million years after the big bang.
Connected: See the deepest image ever taken of our universe, captured by the James Webb Telescope
Light it has a finite velocity, so the farther it traveled to reach us, the further back in time it originated. The wavelengths of light from the oldest and most distant galaxies are also stretched by billions of years of travel through the expanding fabric of space time in a process known as redshift, which makes Webb’s sophisticated infrared cameras essential for peering into of the universe earliest moments.
The researchers, who outlined their findings in a paper published July 26 in the Preprint Database arXiv, found that the newly discovered galaxy has a record redshift of 16.7, meaning that its light is stretched to almost 18 times redder than if the expanding Universe were not moving the galaxy away from us. The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed.
Webb’s extreme sensitivity to infrared frequencies means that it must be insulated from the destructive heat signals of The Earthand the telescope now rests in a gravitationally stable location beyond moonAriane’s orbit – known as the Lagrange point – after it was launched there from French Guiana atop an Ariane 5 rocket on Christmas Day 2021.
In the six months since Webb’s launch, NASA engineers have been calibrating the telescope’s instruments and mirror segments in preparation for capturing the first images. Their progress was briefly interrupted when the telescope was unexpectedly struck from a micrometeoroid sometime between May 23 and 25. The blow stayed “irreparable” damage to a small part of the telescope mirrorbut that didn’t seem to affect its effectiveness, Live Science previously reported.
Since the telescope released its incredible first images on July 12, it has been flooding the web with pictures of fascinating distant objects. The newly described record image was obtained during Space Evolution Early Launch Science Survey (CEERS) — a deep and wide-ranging study of the sky by the telescope. .
Remarkably, the researchers who discovered the image weren’t even looking for the most distant galaxy on record. Instead, they compiled a list of 55 early galaxies (44 of which had been observed before) to study how bright they were at different points in time after the Big Bang—a measure that will give them important insights into the evolution of the young universe.
To confirm that the galaxy is as old as its redshift suggests, astronomers will use spectroscopy to analyze the magnitude of light across a range of wavelengths for all galaxies detected so far by Webb’s Near Infrared Spectrograph instrument. This device uses tiny adjustable mirrors, 0.1 millimeters long and 0.2 millimeters wide, that let in light only from target galaxies, adjusting the background radiation so astronomers can separate the galaxy’s stars by color. This effort will not only reveal the age of the galaxies’ light, but also their chemical composition, size and temperatures.
Astronomers believe that the first stars, which were first born from collapsing gas clouds about 100 million years after the Big Bang, were composed mainly of lighter elements, such as hydrogen and helium. Later stars began fusing these lighter elements to form heavier ones such as oxygen, carbon, lead and gold.
Given the staggering speed of Webb’s discoveries, along with his ability to look back as far as 100 million years after the Big Bang, it’s highly unlikely that this is the most distant galaxy we’ll ever see. The telescope is likely to break many more of its own records in the coming months — and we can’t wait to see more.
Originally published on Live Science.