NASA's Webb telescope finds 'undiscovered country' of galaxies unlike ours
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Researchers from the National Institute for Astrophysics and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center have found two ‘exceptionally bright’ galaxies that are the most distant galaxies ever to be observed, as per the NASA website.
They were captured through infrared observations of the cosmos by the Webb telescope - the largest optical telescope in space.
According to the research paper, these galaxies existed approximately 450 and 350 million years after the big bang.
“These observations just make your head explode. This is a whole new chapter in astronomy. It's like an archaeological dig, and suddenly you find a lost city or something you didn’t know about. It’s just staggering,” Paola Santini, one of the authors of the research paper, said in a statement.
But what is so unique about these findings is that scientists initially thought they had to search a much ‘bigger volume’ of space to stumble upon such galaxies.
Even its brightness has left researchers stumped on how they could’ve evolved.
Researcher Pascal Oesch at the University of Geneva in Switzerland shared: “While the distances of these early sources still need to be confirmed with spectroscopy, their extreme brightnesses are a real puzzle, challenging our understanding of galaxy formation.”
However, their brightness could be due to one of two reasons; they could be massive while containing many low-mass stars or smaller in volume with fewer bright stars.
Upon the groundbreaking discovery, scientists realised galaxies began developing faster and earlier than they initially thought.
Garth Illingworth of the University of California at Santa Cruz, a member of the research team, also said: “We’ve nailed something that is incredibly fascinating. These galaxies would have had to have started coming together maybe just 100 million years after the big bang.
“Nobody expected that the dark ages would have ended so early.”
According to The Independent, they are extremely different from our galaxy as they are much smaller and have been squished into spheres or discs.
While the paper suggests that more observation needs to be conducted to confirm the distance, these findings have proved there are more galaxies out there.
Tommaso Treu of the University of California, Los Angeles, a chief scientist for Webb’s early release science program, said as per The Guardian: “We discovered there are many more distant galaxies than we had been expecting.”