New photos from the James Webb Space Telescope show how galaxies are bending
In the dance of dark matter, NASA’s Deep Space Observatory captured light bending in distant space.
Massive The James Webb Space Telescope the mirror was used by a cluster of galaxies gravity glimpse of a familiar galaxy far beyond, but there’s a twist: new research published Wednesday (October 26) suggests the Web may be looking at two galaxies and not one. (The region previously recorded Hubble Space Telescopebut this new view is sharper than ever.)
“We’re actively debating whether it’s two galaxies or two groups of stars within a galaxy,” said astronomer Dan Coe of the Space Telescope Science Institute, instrument scientist for Webb’s near-infrared camera. in a NASA statement (opens in new tab). “We don’t know, but these are the questions Webb is designed to help us answer.”
Hubble saw the objects, found 10 years ago and named MACS0647-JD, as a “faint, red dot” formed just 400 million years after Big bang that started the universe, according to Coe. While Webb revealed that one object is actually two, the nature of what the new telescope is seeing remains a mystery.
Webb’s team is committed to publishing science in progress and as such, this discovery has not yet been peer-reviewed and is still in early discussion. If Webb spotted two galaxies, there’s an even more intriguing possibility: A galactic merger could be underway early on the universe.
“If this is the most distant merger, I will be really ecstatic,” said Tiger Yu-Yang Hsiao, Ph.D. graduate student at John Hopkins University, in the same statement. But whether the Web is looking at two star clusters or two galaxies, there are clear differences between the two: one set of objects is slightly bluer with a lot starsand the other is a little redder with a lot of dust.
Webb’s usage gravitational lens is not new to astronomy, but harnessing the ability of massive objects to bend light will bring new insights into the telescope’s sensitive instruments. Webb is optimized to look at the early universe, which is rapidly receding from us in infrared wavelengths.
The web is expected 20 years space-based observations will greatly expand our catalog of early galaxies from “just dozens” of objects to many more, said Rebecca Larson, a National Science Foundation Fellow and Ph.D. graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin.
“Studying them can help us understand how they evolved into the ones like the galaxy we live in today, as well as how the universe has evolved over time,” Larson it is stated in the same statement (opens in new tab). She added that she looks forward to when the Web will be able to create “deep fields” of a single point in the sky, like Hubble has done this more than oncebecause it will reveal even more objects in the early universe.
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