The NASA James Webb Space Telescope has once again captured the image of the oldest galaxy ever seen, beating its own previous milestone by about 100 million years. And what’s more? It was discovered by accident.
It has been less than a month since the NASA James Webb Space Telescope has begun sending us the amazing pictures from space, and it has already broken its own record. The world’s most powerful space telescope has spotted the oldest galaxy ever observed. A week ago, the JWST shared an image of a galaxy called GLASS-z13, the ‘then’ oldest galaxy which was estimated to be just 300 million years after the Big Bang. But now, with only 7 days after coronation, the title of the oldest galaxy ever has shifted to another star cluster which has been named CEERS-93316- it is estimated at 235 million years after the Big Bang. And the best part? It was discovered by accident. The job of the James Webb Telescope is to find the oldest stars and galaxies going as far back as 13.8 billion year, which is the exact age of the Universe- in effect, JWST looks back in time at things as they were.
The discovery came after researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, began compiling the images sent by JWST to investigate the luminosity function of old galaxies. They were not looking for the oldest galaxy, but to find a correlation between the luminosity of galaxies deemed as old. Now, according to their preprint paper which carries their study, the researchers have come across what could possibly be the ‘new’ oldest galaxy ever seen. Do note, the study has been published on arXiv which is not peer-reviewed. So, there is a possibility that after reviews, the data might not hold up and this galaxy turns out not to be the oldest galaxy.
NASA James Webb Space Telescope finds the oldest galaxy, again
The researchers have also identified 55 distant galaxies, where they claim that 44 of them have never been observed before. Coming to CEERS-93316, the researchers identified its status as the oldest using the redshift of the galaxy. Redshift is the measure of light into the shorter wavelengths (which are reddish), to understand how far the galaxy is and how old it can possibly be. The researchers claim that this galaxy has a record redshift of 1.67 making it the oldest galaxy ever spotted.
“We’re using a telescope that was designed to do precisely this kind of thing, and it’s amazing,” Callum Donnan, an astrophysics PhD student in the university’s Institute for Astronomy told BBC.