The Webb Space Telescope discovers the first galaxies hidden from Hubble

The Webb Space Telescope discovers the first galaxies hidden from Hubble
Written by admin

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s Webb Space Telescope is finding bright, early galaxies that have been hidden from view until now, including galaxies that formed just 350 million years after the Big Bang that created the universe.

Astronomers said Thursday that if the results are confirmed, this newly discovered star mass would beat the record-holder Hubble Space Telescope, which dates back 400 million years to the creation of the universe.

It was launched last December as the successor to HubbleThe Webb telescope shows that stars can form much sooner than previously thought – perhaps within a few million years of their creation.

Webb’s latest discoveries are detailed Astrophysical Journal Letters by an international team led by Rohan Naidu of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The article details two exceptionally bright galaxies, one thought to have formed 350 million years after the Big Bang and the other 450 million years.

Naidu said more infrared observations by Webb are needed before a new distance record holder can be claimed.

Although some researchers have reported the discovery of galaxies closer to the formation of the universe 13.8 billion years ago, these candidates have not yet been confirmed, scientists stressed at a NASA press conference. Some of them may be later galaxies that mimic earlier ones, they noted.

“It’s a very dynamic time,” said Garth Illingworth of the University of California, Santa Cruz, co-author of the paper published Thursday. “There are many early announcements of earlier galaxies, and we’re still trying as a community to sort out which ones might be real.”

Tommaso Treu of the University of California, Los Angeles, chief scientist for Webb’s early launch science program, said the evidence presented so far for the galaxy, which is believed to have formed 350 million years after the Big Bang, is “as robust as it gets.”

If the findings are confirmed and there are more early galaxies out there, Naidu and his team wrote that Webb would be “very successful in pushing the cosmic frontier to the edge of the Big Bang.”

“When and how the first galaxies formed remains one of the most intriguing questions,” they said.

Jane Rigby, NASA’s project scientist with Webb, noted that these galaxies were “hidden at the limits of what Hubble could do.”

“They were waiting for us there,” he said. “So it’s a pleasant surprise that there are so many of these galaxies to study.”

The $10 billion observatory, the world’s largest and most powerful telescope sent into space, is located in a solar orbit 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth. Full science operations began in the summer, and since then NASA has released a series of dazzling images of the universe.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is responsible for all content.

About the author


Leave a Comment