JWST Spots Half Dozen Massive Galaxies Dating Back to Early Universe

Astronomers have recently made a stunning discovery with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).[0] The telescope has spotted a half dozen incredibly massive galaxies in the early universe, just 500 to 700 million years after the Big Bang. This discovery is forcing scientists to rethink the very origins of galaxies, as the amount of mass astronomers have found is up to 100 times greater than previously thought.[1]

These galaxies are so far away that they appear only as tiny reddish dots to the powerful telescope.[2] By analyzing the light emitted by these galaxies, astronomers established that they were viewing them in our universe's infancy only 500 million to 700 million years after the Big Bang.

The discovery has been described as “bananas” by Erica Nelson, an assistant professor of astrophysics at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author of the new research.[3] “You just don’t expect the early universe to be able to organize itself that quickly. These galaxies should not have had time to form,” Nelson said.[4]

These galaxies are so big that they are in tension with 99% of models for cosmology.[5] The models for cosmology or our scientific understanding of galaxy formation in the early universe would need to be changed to explain the large amount of mass present. It is currently believed that galaxies began as small collections of stars and dust and gradually got bigger over time.[6] Either scenario requires a fundamental shift in our understanding of how the universe came to be.[7]

During its first few months of operation, the JWST observed objects.[8] The powerful space telescope studies the Universe in infrared, which is perfect for spotting the light that has traveled for billions of years to reach us from the early Universe.[8]

The team is now hoping to use JWST to take a spectrum image of the massive galaxies, splitting their light into constituent parts, which will enable scientists to calculate exactly how massive they are, how far away they exist, and what gasses and other elements they contain. There’s also a possibility that a few of these objects could be obscured supermassive black holes, or faint quasars.[9]

In order to determine the exact mass, distance, and composition of massive galaxies, scientists must use the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to take a spectrum image of them, breaking down the light into its individual components.

0. “NASA's James Webb finds 6 huge galaxies that shouldn't exist – study” The Jerusalem Post, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.jpost.com/science/article-732409

1. “‘Universe Breaker': James Webb Telescope Spots Massive Ancient Galaxies” NDTV, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.ndtv.com/feature/nasas-james-webb-telescope-finds-massive-universe-breaker-galaxies-scientists-stunned-3808861

2. “The James Webb Space Telescope discovers enormous distant galaxies that should not exist” Space.com, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.space.com/james-webb-space-telescope-giant-distant-galaxies-surprise

3. “JWST may have found early universe galaxies that shouldn't be there” Axios, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/02/22/james-webb-space-telescope-galaxies

4. “The Webb Telescope Spots Six Galaxies That Shouldn't Exist” TIME, 22 Feb. 2023, https://time.com/6257544/webb-telescope-galaxies

5. “Discovery of massive early galaxies defies prior understanding of the universe” Pennsylvania State University, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/discovery-massive-early-galaxies-defies-prior-understanding-universe

6. “Six Enormous Galaxies Detected from the Dawn of Our Universe: ‘Our First Glimpse Back This Far'” Good News Network, 22 Mar. 2000, https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/six-enormous-galaxies-detected-from-the-dawn-of-our-universe-our-first-glimpse-back-this-far/

7. “Webb Space Telescope's Latest Discovery Could Completely Upend Our Current Understanding of the Universe” The Debrief, 23 Feb. 2023, https://thedebrief.org/webb-space-telescopes-latest-discovery-could-completely-upend-our-current-understanding-of-the-universe

8. “Astronomers Detect 6 Massive Galaxies So Old They Can't Be Explained by Science” ScienceAlert, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.sciencealert.com/astronomers-detect-6-massive-galaxies-so-old-they-cant-be-explained-by-science

9. “The James Webb telescope found six galaxies that may be too hefty for their age” Science News Magazine, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/james-webb-telescope-six-galaxies-old

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