James Webb Telescope discovers galaxies called 'universe breakers' that technically shouldn't exist
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NASA’s James Webb Telescope has uncovered evidence of ancient galaxies that technically shouldn’t exist.
An international team of astronomers, led by Ivo Labbé of Swinburne University, has discovered six massive ancient galaxies, dubbed ‘universe breakers’, and they could upend our understanding of space.
The researchers, who published their findings in Nature earlier this week, revealed the huge galaxies could have formed 500 to 700 million years after the Big Bang.
They were spotted by the telescope’s infrared-sensing instruments.
These tools detect light emitted by the most ancient stars and galaxies, allowing them to see roughly 13.5 billion years back in time.
Researchers have been well and truly puzzled about the universe breakers due to their size.
"That's 10 to 100 times bigger than typical galaxies [in the early Universe] are supposed to be," Dr Labbé said in a statement, as per ABC News.
According to their measurements, these six objects could weigh billions more than the sun.
For one of the galaxies, the total weight of all its stars may be 100 billion times greater than the sun.
My brain is frying just trying to comprehend something that large.
"While most galaxies in this era are still small and only gradually growing larger over time," Dr Labbé added.
"There are a few monsters that fast-track to maturity. Why this is the case or how this would work is unknown."
Joel Leja, an assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University and co-author of the study, said that he was blown away by the findings of a whole new class of objects created during the dawn of the universe.
He revealed: "The revelation that massive galaxy formation began extremely early in the history of the universe upends what many of us had thought was settled science.
"It turns out we found something so unexpected it actually creates problems for science.
"It calls the whole picture of early galaxy formation into question."
The assistant professor says the objects are 'way more massive than anyone expected'.
Galaxies at that range are only 'tiny, young, baby' because they're only just being formed.
He added: "But we’ve discovered galaxies as mature as our own in what was previously understood to be the dawn of the universe.”
And while scientists are already scratching their heads, results still need to be confirmed through spectrometry, which breaks up the light into wavelengths, allowing for more precise distance measurements.
So far, the distance and mass have only been confirmed for a couple of newly discovered objects.
If measurements are correct, galaxies must have been created much faster and more efficiently than current theories of galaxy formation suggest.
"It is an encouraging sign that spectra confirmed what we had determined from the images using our standard techniques," Dr Labbé's said.