Two new images from the James Webb Space Telescope show galaxies of multiple shapes and sizes, near, farther and what could be one of the most distant galaxies ever observed.
Both images include objects over 13 billion years old and offer a much wider field of vision that the first deep-field image of the Webb, which was made public on July 12, reports the Spanish Center for Astrobiology (CAB) in a press release.
Here are some of the first images obtained within the CEERS project (acronym for Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science Survey, survey presenting the first scientific results on cosmic evolution).
This beautiful collaboration, using the new space telescope, studies how some of the first galaxies formed when the universe was within 5% of its current age, during a period known as reionization.
Composed of eighteen researchers from twelve institutions, including Pablo G. Pérez González, from the CAB (center of the CSIC and the National Institute of Aerospace Technology), CEERS also has more than a hundred collaborators from ten other countries.
During the first week of analyzing the data, the team identified one object of particular interest: a galaxy they named Maisiein honor of the daughter of the director of the project, Steven Finkelstein.
It is estimated that this galaxy only existed 300 million years after the Big Bang. The data, which It took about 24 hours to compile. they come from an area of sky near the tail of the Big Dipper.
This same area of the sky has already been observed by the Hubble Space Telescope, in what is called the Extended Groth Fringe. “It’s amazing how what was for Hubble a point of light now becomes for Webb a complete galaxy with beautiful structures. Moreover, other galaxies are emerging out of nowhere!” says Finkelstein, associate professor at astronomy at the University of Texas (Austin, USA) and principal investigator of CEERS.
The extremely sharp images from CEERS have not only been used to discover distant galaxies, they also show many interesting and beautiful objectsrevealing the complexity of the evolution of galaxies throughout the life of the universe, adds the CAB.
Some galaxies look like elegant windmills, others are like little beings at the beginning of their lives, others show interactions with their neighbors that deform or even destroy them, and others spread out in the sky as if it were a “pacman”. One of the images was obtained with the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), developed by a European consortium in which CAB participated (the other image was captured with the NIRcam instrument).
“The images from MIRI are impressive, eight times sharper than what we had until now,” says Pérez González. According to the CAB researcher, “with each major astrophysical mission that begins, the universe surprises us. We always think that we are already so close to the Big Bang that the galaxies must be very young and that we should almost detect the first, but the Webb reveals very large galaxies that were already well evolved when the universe was only 5% of its current age.”
“The universe has been super efficient almost all of its life at forming galaxies. Not only that, also elements and complex chemical compounds, which must have an effect on the appearance of life,” he adds. The collaboration of the American NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian CSA made possible the James Webb.
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