Earliest formation of the galaxies revealed by James Webb Telescope | Tech News

Earliest formation of the galaxies revealed by James Webb Telescope

A recent study has revealed the earliest formation of galaxies in the universe, thanks to a stunning discovery by the James Webb Space Telescope.

| Updated on: Feb 09 2023, 13:25 IST
6 STRANGEST massive black hole discoveries in 2022 that shook the world
galaxy cluster SMACS0723
1/6 One of the most startling discoveries of 2022 was a massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Known as Sagittarius A*, a direct image of this massive space entity was taken by the Event Horizon Telescope. With around 4 times the mass of our Sun, it is believed that the black hole plays a key role in holding our galaxy together. (Photo courtesy: Nasa)
galaxy cluster SMACS0723
2/6 Even as Sagittarius A* lies within our own galaxy, it is not the closest black hole to the Earth. That title goes to the cosmic matter eating void, lying 1,566 light years away from the Earth in the Ophiuchus constellation. It was discovered in November.  (NASA)
galaxy cluster SMACS0723
3/6 But if a black hole in our cosmic backyard does not scare you, maybe this will. 2022 was also the year scientists discovered a rogue black hole wandering in space. This discovery is particularly of value since it was always believed that isolated black holes exist but it was never seen due to the difficulty in spotting them. Usually all the black holes we know of are part of a binary system, along with a neutron star. (NASA)
galaxy cluster SMACS0723
4/6 A rare moment occurred in December 2022 when NASA spotted a black hole eating a passing star in a rare moment known as a tidal disruption event. It was believed that the star consumed by the black hole was similar to our Sun.    (AP)
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5/6 Even after decades of research and space exploration, we have still only observed just a few black holes in the universe. However, a study published this year has made some terrifying claims. Based on the number of stars spotted which are capable of turning into a black hole, and some number crunching on the potential number of stars that can exist, it was said that the universe currently contains 40 quintillion stellar-mass black holes. (AFP)
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6/6 Finally, the brightest black hole was also discovered this year. Known as J1144, this monstrous black hole is 500 times larger than Sagittarius A* and apparently it consumes matter worth the size of the Earth every second. Because of its consumption rate, it has created a massive accretion disk which makes it so bright. In fact, it can even be seen using a regular telescope. (NASA)
galaxy cluster SMACS0723
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The galaxy cluster SMACS0723 is located nearly 4.6 billion years away from Earth. (NASA/ESA/STScI/CSA)

NASA's $10 billion space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), has been capturing breathtaking images of far-off galaxies, star clusters, black holes and more. The space telescope was launched on December 25, 2021, and despite being in service for less than two years, it has added many feathers in its cap. One of the major feats of JWST is capturing galaxy clusters which are located billions of light-years away from Earth.

One of the first images captured by the JWST released in July last year, the Galaxy Cluster SMACS0723 could reveal information about the earliest formation of galaxies, when the universe was less than 1 billion years old, according to a study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The galaxy cluster is located at a stellar distance of nearly 4.6 billion light-years away, according to a press release published on eurekalert.org.

Scientists take advantage of an effect called Gravitational Lensing which bends light around massive celestial objects to capture objects at even further distances. The study of the image revealed several galaxies in the background, the oldest forming just 680 million years after the Big Bang.

Alongside the galaxies, scientists also found clumps of stars which reveal the earliest stages of the formation of galaxies and give a peek into the past at a time when the first galaxies started forming after the Big Bang. Angela Adamo, an astronomer at Stockholm University in Sweden and one of the lead authors of the study said, “The images from the James Webb Space Telescope show that we can now detect very small structures inside very distant galaxies and that we can see these clumps in many of these galaxies. The telescope is a game-changer for the entire field of research and helps us understand how galaxies form and evolve.”

About Galaxy Clusters

Most galaxies exist in groups or clusters with dozens or hundreds of members, and these cluster galaxies are all in constant motion, pulled and twisted by their neighbour's gravity. Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the Universe bound by gravity and astronomers can use them to measure important cosmological properties, according to NASA.

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First Published Date: 09 Feb, 12:51 IST