Just a week after unveiling the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful ever constructed, it may already have found the most distant galaxy ever observed, which existed 13.5 billion years ago.
• Also read: An image of the absolute
• Also read: I would have liked to see that
• Also read: NASA unveils all first images from the world’s most powerful space telescope, the James Webb
Dubbed GLASS-z13, it appears to us to have formed only about 300 million years after the Big Bang, 100 million years younger than the previously observed record, Rohan Naidu of Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics told AFP.
He is the lead author of a study analyzing public data taken from James Webb’s first observations and put online for all astronomers on the planet.
One of the main tasks of this brand new telescope is to observe the first galaxies to form after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.
In astronomy, foresight is like traveling back in time. Sunlight, for example, takes eight minutes to reach us, so we see it as it was eight minutes ago. Therefore, if we look as far as possible, we can see light as it was emitted billions of years ago.
The light from this galaxy was emitted 13.5 billion years ago.
This study has not yet been reviewed, but published as a “preprint” so that it can be quickly accessed by experts. It has been submitted to a scientific journal for forthcoming publication, Rohan Naidu said.
“The records in astronomy are already shattering,” tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s deputy administrator in charge of science. “Yes, I tend to only welcome peer-reviewed scientific results. But this is very promising! he added to the study.
Another research team also came to the same conclusions, according to Rohan Naidu, which “gives them confidence.”
The galaxy was observed by the NiRcam instrument and captured on what is known as a ‘deep field’, ie a wider image taken with a long exposure time to reveal the faintest glints.
The peculiarity of James Webb is that he only works in the infrared range. The light emitted by older objects stretched and “reddened” along the way, getting into wavelengths invisible to the human eye.
Therefore, to draw a picture of this galaxy, the data was “translated” into the visible spectrum: it then appears as a red circular shape and white at its center. A blurred point in the infinity of the cosmos.