Spectacular Webb Telescope image reveals things scientists can’t explain

The James Webb Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to see things they can’t explain.

At least not yet.

In the new search(opens in a new tab) from Webb – the most powerful space observatory ever built – astronomers spent 50 hours peering into the deepest cosmos and spotting some of the first galaxies ever to form, well over 13 billion years ago. Capturing such a rich cosmic view, with the faintest objects humanity has ever glimpsed, is an impressive feat. But the data also reveal that these early galaxies emitted a phenomenal amount of energy into space… 10 times more than scientists predicted.

The “key” question is As these fledgling galaxies achieved this goal, Pablo G. Pérez-González, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrobiology in Spain, said in a statement. Strange black holes? Lively stars? Pérez-González is an author of the research, which was published in the scientific journal The letters from the astrophysicist diary.


The Webb telescope just found something unprecedented in the Orion Nebula

The Webb telescope is an extremely sensitive instrument, with the ability to capture some of the farthest light in space. That’s because Webb sees a type of light we can’t see, called infrared, which travels at longer wavelengths than visible light. Basically, ancient light is being stretched as the universe expands, meaning it has changed and “redshifted”.

The mighty Webb, therefore, can see the energy created by the first galaxies. Astronomers have identified 44 galaxies that probably formed during the first 500 million years of the universe. Originally, this energy was emitted in the form of ultraviolet light, but it has also been extended to infrared.

In the image below, released by the researchers, you can see:

  • Left: A deep-field view of the cosmos with vivid spiral galaxies in the foreground and a plethora of much older galaxies in the distance. Virtually all of these objects are galaxies.

  • Right: Magnified views of three of the highly redshifted galaxies releasing unexpected amounts of energy. “They would have formed in the first 200-500 million years after the Big Bang, when the age of the universe was 1-5% of today. [age]”, explains a statement about the research.

Ancient galaxies captured by the James Webb Space Telescope's MIRI Deep Imaging Survey.

Ancient galaxies captured by the James Webb Space Telescope’s MIRI Deep Imaging Survey.
Credits: Pierluigi Rinaldi / Rafael Navarro-Carrera / Pablo G. Pérez-González

The electromagnetic spectrum showing all wavelengths of light, such as visible light, infrared, ultraviolet and beyond.

The electromagnetic spectrum showing all wavelengths of light, such as visible light, infrared, ultraviolet and beyond.
Credit: NASA

Astronomers have simulated, with advanced computers, how the universe has evolved over billions of years, starting with the formation of the first stars and galaxies, and finally creating the organic materials essential for life. But no simulation predicted such extreme emissions of ultraviolet energy. What could explain it?

They could be vibrant young stars, much hotter than our medium-sized sun, spewing large amounts of energy into space. OR, it is possible that this ancient light was created by supermassive black holes, which are objects hundreds of thousands to billions of times the mass of the sun and are usually found in the centers of galaxies, such as our own Milky Way.

But this creates another question: “Where would those supermassive black holes have come from?” Pérez-González asked.

“JWST is currently providing us with far more questions than answers, but these new lines of research are exciting.”

He wonders how objects so giant—with gravity so intense that not even light can escape—formed so quickly, so early in the universe’s history. Most black holes are created by exploded stars, but perhaps these black holes formed in another way? Questions abound.

“JWST is currently providing us with far more questions than answers, but these new lines of research are exciting,” the researchers said.

Stay tuned for more Webb answers and questions.

Artist illustration of the James Webb Space Telescope orbiting the sun 1 million miles from Earth.

Artist illustration of the James Webb Space Telescope orbiting the sun 1 million miles from Earth.
Credit: NASA

The powerful capabilities of the Webb telescope

The Webb Telescope – a scientific collaboration between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency – is designed to peer into the deepest cosmos and reveal unprecedented insights into the early universe. But it’s also peering into intriguing planets in our galaxy and even planets in our solar system.

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Here’s how Webb is achieving unparalleled results and likely will for decades:

  • Giant mirror: Webb’s light-catching mirror is more than 21 feet wide. It is over two and a half times the size of the Hubble Space Telescope’s mirror. Capturing more light allows Webb to see more distant and ancient objects. As described above, the telescope is peering into stars and galaxies that formed over 13 billion years ago, just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

    “We will see the very first stars and galaxies that have ever formed,” Jean Creighton, an astronomer and director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, told Mashable in 2021.

  • Infrared view: Unlike Hubble, which sees mostly light visible to us, Webb is primarily an infrared telescope, meaning it sees light in the infrared spectrum. This allows us to see much more of the universe. Infrared has longer wavelengths(opens in a new tab) compared to visible light, so light waves glide more efficiently through cosmic clouds; light doesn’t collide as often and isn’t scattered by these densely packed particles. Ultimately, Webb’s infrared vision can penetrate places Hubble cannot.

    “Lift the veil,” Creighton said.

  • Peering into distant exoplanets: The Webb telescope it carries specialized equipment called spectrometers(opens in a new tab) that will revolutionize our understanding of these distant worlds. The tools can decipher which molecules (such as water, carbon dioxide and methane) exist in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets, whether they are gas giants or smaller rocky worlds. Webb will examine exoplanets in the Milky Way galaxy. Who knows what we will find.

    “We may learn things we never thought about,” Mercedes López-Morales, exoplanet researcher and astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics-Harvard & Smithsonian(opens in a new tab)he told Mashable in 2021.

    Astronomers have already successfully found intriguing chemical reactions on a planet 700 light-years away, and the observatory has begun observing one of the most anticipated places in the cosmos: the Earth-sized rocky planets of the TRAPPIST solar system.

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Image Source : mashable.com

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