NASA’s James Webb Telescope reveals millions of galaxies

NASA’s James Webb Telescope reveals millions of galaxies


SMACS 0723: Red arcs in the image trace light from galaxies in the early universe

There were 10 times more galaxies just like our own Milky Way in the early universe than previously thought.

This cosmic insight comes from one of the first studies of images taken by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope.

One of the authors, Professor Christopher Conselice of the University of Manchester, UK, said Webb could “zoom in on the early universe”.

This provided insight into objects in space that “we knew existed but did not understand how and when they were formed”.

Disc galaxies dominate the ‘galaxy population’ today,” the researcher explained.

“Our own galaxy is a disk, Andromeda (our nearest neighbour, which is 2.5 million light years from Earth) is a disk.

“Three-quarters of nearby galaxies are discs, but they were thought to have formed late in the universe’s evolution,” he told BBC News.

It was before the James Webb space telescope gave astronomers a view so far back in time.

The study, which has been published on a preprint server, meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed by other researchers in the field, used the first image released from the telescope.

This image shows a foreground cluster of galaxies called SMACS 0723. The gravity of this large mass of objects has magnified the light of background galaxies in the distant universe, making them visible for the first time. Some of these galaxies existed only 600 million years after the Big Bang.

The Carina Nebula

Webb takes some incredible pictures: “This could be the most important telescope ever”

Webb, with its 6.5m wide golden mirror and super-sensitive infrared instruments, is able to resolve their shapes and count them.

“We knew we would see things Hubble didn’t see. But in this case we see things differently,” said Prof Conselice, who will present some of his discoveries on Saturday 23 July at the Bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire.

The universe is about 13.8 billion years old, so the images captured by JWST are glimpses of the processes that formed stars and planets long before our own.

“These are the processes we need to understand if we want to understand our origins,” Prof. Conselice said.

“This may be the most important telescope ever,” he added. “At least since Galileo.”

James Webb is a joint effort between the American, European and Canadian space agencies, led by Nasa.

James Webb

James Webb

Follow Victoria on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.