Astronomers are at a loss: ancient galaxies have discovered that it should not exist

The light captured from the six galaxies is said to be 13 billion years old, which means that they existed between 500 and 700 million years after the Big Bang. An impressive discovery, but one that has left astronomers speechless. “Our universe was then only 3 percent of its current age,” said Joel Lega, assistant professor of astronomy at Penn State University and co-author of the study. “We expected to find only young and small galaxies at that time, but we have discovered massive and mature objects like our own Milky Way, with stars up to a hundred times more massive than we expected.”

Calculations show that the newly discovered galaxies “hosted tens to hundreds of billions of stars the size of the Sun, and thus are comparable to the Milky Way. But really, they shouldn’t have had time to form,” says Dr. Erica Nelson of the University of Colorado Boulder and another co-author. .

The systems contradict nearly all current models of the early universe. To explain their existence, scientists may need to revisit some of the basic rules of cosmology. “It turns out that we found something so unexpected that it poses problems for science,” Lega said. “At first I thought we made a mistake, because this calls into question the whole picture of early galaxy formation.”

cool down period

What we’re seeing here is really amazing, says Leen Decin, an astronomer at KU Leuven. “It appears that the period between the Big Bang and the formation of the first galaxies was much shorter than we previously thought.”

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According to the vast majority of current models, after a period of rapid expansion, the universe needed a few hundred million years to cool enough for gas to coalesce and collapse for the first stars and galaxies to start forming. “What we have here seems to indicate that the period between the Big Bang and the formation of the first galaxies was much shorter than we previously thought,” says astronomer KU Leuven.

Both researchers and Dessen still speak in the conditional sense, because of course more research is needed. For example, it is also possible that some of the objects found are hidden in supermassive black holes.

How does James Webb look back in time?

Our world is constantly expanding and getting bigger and bigger. “This ensures that the light waves are shifting more and more towards the red,” says astronomer KU Leuven. “The James Webb Telescope is equipped with highly sensitive infrared cameras, which allow it to look back in time well, even several million years after the Big Bang.”

In December of last year, James Webb discovered galaxies dating back about 350 million years after the big bang, the oldest on record. “However, it was much smaller in mass and more consistent with our current models of the formation of the universe.”

Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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