• World
  • Jun 05

James Webb Space Telescope finds most distant known galaxy

• Using the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists have found a record-breaking galaxy observed only 290 million years after the big bang. The galaxy is called JADES-GS-z14-0.

• The new discovery was made by the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) research team.

• This galaxy measures about 1,700-light years across. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, 9.5 trillion km. 

• It has a mass equivalent to 500 million stars the size of our Sun and is  rapidly forming new stars, about 20 every year.

• Our Milky Way is about 100,000 light years across, with the mass equivalent to about 10 billion sun-sized stars.

• Before Webb’s observations, scientists did not know galaxies could exist so early, and certainly not luminous ones like this.

• Over the last two years, scientists have used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (also called Webb or JWST) to explore what astronomers refer to as Cosmic Dawn — the period in the first few hundred million years after the big bang where the first galaxies were born. 

• These galaxies provide vital insight into the ways in which the gas, stars, and black holes were changing when the universe was very young. 

• In October 2023 and January 2024, an international team of astronomers used Webb to observe galaxies as part of the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) programme.

• Using Webb’s NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph), they obtained a spectrum of a record-breaking galaxy observed only 290 million years after the big bang. This corresponds to a redshift of about 14, which is a measure of how much a galaxy’s light is stretched by the expansion of the universe.

James Webb Space Telescope

• James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the world’s premier space science observatory. It is the largest, most powerful space telescope ever built.

• JWST was launched on December 25, 2021 on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America.

• It reached its lookout point 1.6 million kilometers from Earth in January 2022.

• Then the lengthy process began to align the mirrors, get the infrared detectors cold enough to operate and calibrate the science instruments, all protected by a sunshade the size of a tennis court that keeps the telescope cool.

• It is designed to answer fundamental questions about the universe and to make breakthrough discoveries in all fields of astronomy.

• A joint effort with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, the Webb observatory is NASA’s revolutionary flagship mission to seek the light from the first galaxies in the early universe and to explore our own solar system, as well as planets orbiting other stars. 

• JWST is the scientific successor to the iconic Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. It is built to complement and further the discoveries of Hubble, Spitzer, and other NASA missions by accessing the near infrared and mid-infrared wavelengths with unprecedented resolution. 

• It is named after NASA’s second administrator, James E. Webb, who headed the agency during part of the Apollo era, from February 1961 to October 1968. The mission was previously known as the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST).

• JWST is about 100 times more sensitive than Hubble and is expected to transform understanding of the universe and our place in it.

• JWST carries four state-of-the-art science instruments with highly sensitive infrared detectors of unprecedented resolution. It studies infrared light from celestial objects with much greater clarity than ever before.

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