Scientists using the James Webb Space Telescope have discovered a galaxy so old it predates the previous oldest known galaxy by roughly 100 million years.
The galaxy, known as GLASS-z13, has broken the record for the oldest galaxy ever observed by nearly 100 million years! pic.twitter.com/IljhTPlZSw
— New Scientist (@newscientist) July 20, 2022
The previous oldest known galaxy, GN-z11, was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2016 and came into existence 400 million years after the Big Bang.
We’re potentially looking at the most distant starlight that anyone has ever seen,” Rohan Naidu of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics told AFP.
The newly-discovered galaxy has been named GLASS-z13, and came into existence 300 million years after the Big Bang.
“JWST has potentially smashed records, spotting a galaxy which existed when the universe was a mere 300 million years old!” former NASA scientist James O’Donoghue enthused. “The light from GLASS-z13 took 13.4 billion years to hit us, but the distance between us is now 33 billion light years due to the expansion of the universe!”
🚨 JWST has potentially smashed records, spotting a galaxy which existed when the universe was a mere 300 million years old! The light from GLASS-z13 took 13.4 billion years to hit us, but the distance between us is now 33 billion light years due to the expansion of the universe! pic.twitter.com/5AcOBwHuO1
— Dr. James O'Donoghue (@physicsJ) July 20, 2022
“Astronomy records are crumbing already, and more are shaky … Yes, I tend to only cheer once science results clear peer review. But, this looks very promising!” Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate added.
Astronomy records are crumbing already, and more are shaky … @NASAWebb 🌌
— Thomas Zurbuchen (@Dr_ThomasZ) July 20, 2022
GLASS-z13 stretches roughly 1600 light years across compared to Earth’s Milky Way galaxy, which ranges 100,000 light-years in diameter.
The James Webb Space Telescope, the largest space telescope ever sent into space, has been in the works for 30 years at a cost of $10 billion and intends to reach back to the beginnings of the universe.
Roughly 20,000 people have played a part in the telescope’s development over the years, from engineers and astronomers to technicians and government officials.
The pictures to be displayed would show “colors no human eye has seen,” The New York Times had reported.
The Webb Telescope will far outstrip the capacities of the famed Hubble telescope in its quest into space and time. In 2018, NASA introduced a double-blind system for proposals from scientists wanting to use the Hubble; the Webb Telescope will also feature such a process for accepting applicants to use it.
“We all know that Webb will absolutely blow Hubble out of the water by going deeper and finding the earliest galaxies,” asserted Garth Illingworth, an astrophysicist who has utilized Hubble.
The five cosmic objects targeted by the Webb Telescope include the Carina Nebula, roughly 7,600 light years away; the WASP-96 b (spectrum), an exoplanet about half the mass of Jupiter; the Southern Ring Nebula, roughly 2,000 light years away from Earth; Stephan’s Quintet in the constellation Pegasus, about 290 million light years distant, and SMACS 0723.