Wide view of the universe’s first clues to the galaxy among the oldest ever detected

CEERS collaboration scientists have identified an object – dubbed the Maisie Galaxy after project leader Steven Finkelstein’s daughter – that may be one of the earliest galaxies ever observed. If its estimated redshift of 14 is confirmed by future observations, that would mean we see it as it was just 290 million years after the Big Bang. Credit: NASA/STScI/CEERS/TACC/S. Finkelstein/M. Bagley/Z. Levay.

Two new images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope show what may be one of the first galaxies ever observed. Both images include objects from over 13 billion years ago, and one offers a much wider field of view than Webb’s first Deep Field image, which was released to much fanfare on July 12. . The images represent some of the first in a major collaboration of astronomers and other academic researchers teaming up with NASA and global partners to uncover new information about the universe.

The team have identified a particularly exciting object – dubbed the Maisie Galaxy after project leader Steven Finkelstein’s daughter – which they believe was observed because it was just 290 million years after the Big Bang ( astronomers call this a redshift of z=14).

The result has been published on the pre-release server arXiv and is awaiting publication in a peer-reviewed journal. If the discovery is confirmed, it would be one of the earliest galaxies ever observed, and its presence would indicate that galaxies began to form much earlier than many astronomers thought.

The razor-sharp images reveal a flurry of complex galaxies evolving over time – some elegantly mature pinwheels, some toddler blobby, still others wispy swirls of do-so-doing neighbors. The images, which took around 24 hours to collect, come from a patch of sky near the handle of the Big Dipper, a constellation officially named Ursa Major. This same area of ​​sky has previously been observed by the Hubble Space Telescope, as seen in the Extended Groth Band.

“It’s amazing to see a bright spot from Hubble transform into an entire, beautifully formed galaxy in these new images from James Webb, and more galaxies popping up out of nowhere,” said Finkelstein, associate professor of astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin and the principal investigator of the Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science Survey (CEERS), from which these images were taken.

The CEERS collaboration is made up of 18 co-investigators from 12 institutions and more than 100 collaborators from the United States and nine other countries. CEERS researchers study how some of the first galaxies formed when the universe was less than 5% of its current age, during a period known as reionization.

Before the actual telescope data arrived, Micaela Bagley, a postdoctoral researcher at UT Austin and one of CEERS’ imaging leads, created simulated images to help the team develop processing methods and analysis of new images. Bagley led a live image processing group so that the data could be analyzed by the whole team.

The big image is a mosaic of 690 individual images that took about 24 hours to collect using the telescope’s main imager, called the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam). This new image covers an area of ​​sky about eight times larger than Webb’s first Deep Field image, although it’s not as deep. The researchers used supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center for initial image processing: Stampede2 was used to remove background noise and artifacts, and Frontera, the world’s most powerful supercomputer at a US university, was used to stitch the images together to form a single mosaic. .

“The high-performance computing power made it possible to combine myriad images and keep the images in memory at the same time for processing, resulting in a single beautiful image,” Finkelstein said.

The other image was taken with the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). Compared to NIRcam, MIRI has a smaller field of view but operates at a much higher spatial resolution than previous mid-infrared telescopes. MIRI detects longer wavelengths than NIRCam, allowing astronomers to see cosmic dust shining from star-forming galaxies and black holes at modestly large distances, and to see light from older stars at very great distances.


The record for the most distant galaxy has just been broken again, 250 million years after the Big Bang


More information:
Steven L. Finkelstein et al, A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: A Candidate z~14 Galaxy in Early JWST CEERS Imaging, arXiv (2022). arXiv:2207.12474 [astro-ph.GA]arxiv.org/abs/2207.12474

Journal information:
arXiv

Provided by the University of Texas at Austin

Quote: Wide view of the universe’s earliest clues to the galaxy among the oldest ever detected (2022, August 4) Retrieved August 5, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-wide-view-early -universe-hints.html

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