A space observatory recently revealed six massive galaxies that existed between 500 million and 700 million years after the Big Bang. Astronomers used the James Webb Space Telescope, which completely overturned existing theories about the origins of galaxies.
“These objects are much more massive than previously thought,” study co-author Joel Lega, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, said in a statement. “We only expected to find young, young galaxies at this point, but we found mature galaxies like our own in what was previously understood to be the dawn of the universe.”
This telescope observes the universe in infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye, and is able to detect the faint light of ancient stars and galaxies. That is, the observatory can go back in time to approximately 13.5 billion years ago, which is the time determined by scientists.
Details about the discovery of the six galaxies
“When we got the data, everyone started diving in and these huge things came out very quickly,” Lega said. The spectroscopy data will provide a more detailed view of the galaxies and their size, which is why “the spectrum will tell us immediately whether or not these things are real,” Lega said.
However, it’s possible that the galaxies identified with Webb’s data could be something else entirely. “This is our first glimpse so far, so it’s important that we open our minds about what we’re seeing,” Lega said.
Finally, “Although the data indicates that they are most likely galaxies, I think there is a real possibility that some of these objects could become supermassive black holes,” Lega added.
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