The James Webb Space Telescope (Webb, or JWST) has discovered many rare red spiral galaxies, giving astronomers a new view of the early universe.
Astronomers analyzed the red spiral galaxies in one of the James Webb Space TelescopeFirst images of galaxy cluster SMACS J0723.3–7327. Through the eyes of JWST, the most powerful telescope ever put into orbit, the galaxy cluster magnifies objects seen behind it, allowing astronomers to see deeper inside the orbit. Universe. Researchers have determined that some of these galaxies represent the most distant spiral galaxies ever seen.
Red spiral galaxies themselves aren’t new discoveries: NASA has retired them Spitzer Space Telescope I photographed them at last. But Spitzer didn’t have the JWST power and couldn’t see the details of the galaxies’ shape, which astronomers call morphology. The shape of galaxies tells the story of their evolution, so the intricate details of the morphology of these galaxies provided by JWST could greatly improve our understanding of the early universe.
Gallery: First images from the James Webb Space Telescope
In addition, a particular galaxy hidden in the image could change our perception of the galactic population that existed during this period of cosmic history. In the image, astronomers have spotted a red spiral galaxy in the early universe that is “passive,” or not star-forming. This finding is surprising, as astronomers expected galaxies in the early universe to be active stars.
While these galaxies have already been detected among previous observations using NASA Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope, the limited spatial resolution and/or sensitivity did not allow us to study their detailed shapes and properties, said Yoshinobu Fudamoto, a junior researcher at Waseda University in Japan and first author on the new paper, in statement.
Spiral galaxies are extremely common in the cosmic neighborhood around the world Milky Way, but red spiral galaxies are much rarer, accounting for only 2% of the galaxies in the local universe. The detection of red spiral galaxies in the early universe in observations covering a relatively small part of space indicates that these rare galaxies were more common in the early universe.
Astronomers have found that the two most extremely red galaxies, RS13 and RS14, appear between 8 billion and 10 billion years ago, very early in the universe’s 13.8 billion year age. The two galaxies are also the most distant and oldest spiral galaxies known to date.
And the fact that RS14 is a negative galaxy that has stopped forming stars It only makes the discovery more interesting because its existence indicates that non-star-forming galaxies could be more common in the early universe than astronomers thought.
“Our study shows for the first time that negative spiral galaxies could be abundant in the early Universe,” Fudamoto said. “While this paper is an empirical study on spiral galaxies in the early universe, confirmation and expansion of this study will greatly influence our understanding of the formation and evolution of galactic shapes.”
The team’s research is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
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