James Webb telescope hits on oldest galaxy in universe

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is providing and more incredible data to the world’s astrophysicists. Having already presented pictures of early star formations, death, and a patch of sky packing thousands of ancient galaxies, the JWST has now discovered the oldest galaxy in the universe.

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The James Webb Space Telescope(JWST)is providing and more incredible data to the world’s astrophysicists. Having already presented pictures of early star formations, death, and a patch of sky packing thousands of ancient galaxies, the JWST has now discovered the oldest galaxy in the universe.

Webb has spotted galaxy candidates that existed when the universe was just 300 million years old, an infant stage in cosmic terms. A team of researchers has analysed data from the Grism Lens-Amplified Survey from Space (GLASS), which is part of the early scientific work by the Webb telescope, and spotted two candidates to be the oldest galaxies in the universe GLASS-z11 and GLASS-z13.

The light from GLASS-z13 has taken about 13.4 billion years to hit the mirrors of the spacecraft, which is located nearly 15,00,000 km from Earth.

What’s even more mind boggling is the fact that while light took over 13 billion years to travel to us, the galaxy is now located close to 33 billion light years away from us as the universe expands in size at a fast pace. Astronomers are yet to clearly answer when and how the first galaxies formed and it remains an intriguing question in the world of astronomy.

GNz11 remains the only galaxy to have been confirmed to exist in the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang, the moment when our universe came to life.

In a study, published in preprint, researchers led by Rohan Naidu of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics state that GLASS-z11 shows a clearly extended exponential light profile, potentially consistent with a disk galaxy. “Our analysis is based on some of the first JWST/NIRCam datasets that have been observed and released over extragalactic fields. In particular, we analyze the two Early Release Science programs GLASS and CEERS,” the team said in the preprint paper.

The 11 and 13 signify the redshifts of the galaxy, which is a measurement of how much the light from these galaxies has been stretched due to the expansion of the universe. The higher redshift indicates the galaxy is farther away from Earth. While the research is yet to be peer-reviewed, if confirmed it could be groundbreaking.

Scientists are likely to use the Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument on the Webb to find details of these two candidates. “Deep JWST observations may identify relatively bright galaxies too, much earlier epochs than might have been anticipated,” the team said in the paper.