Galaxies Similar to the Milky Way Existed Earlier Than Expected, New Discovery Reveals
A recent discovery challenges previous knowledge about galaxy formation, revealing that galaxies similar to the Milky Way already existed 11.7 billion years ago, when the universe was only 15% of its current age. This surprising finding contradicts the belief that the structure of spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, did not form until the cosmos was half its current age.
The discovery was made by researcher Luca Constantine from the Astrobiology Center (CAB, INTA-CSIC) and his team, who published their study in the prestigious journal Nature. They used the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to locate a galaxy in the young universe that has a characteristic structure known as a galactic bar, which is a central band of bright stars.
The galaxy, named ceers-2112, has a redshift of 3, indicating that it existed when the universe was only 2.1 billion years old. This challenges previous theories about galaxy formation and suggests that the evolution of this galaxy was dominated by ordinary matter, rather than dark matter, which is more abundant.
The Meaning of Galactic Bars
Galactic bars play a fundamental role in the evolution of galaxies, as they facilitate the mixing of elements necessary for the formation of stars. In the nearby universe, most massive spiral galaxies, including the Milky Way, have an elongated bar-shaped structure in their central regions.
However, according to theoretical models, the physical and dynamic conditions of the early universe were not conducive to the formation of bars in the youngest and most distant galaxies. This discovery challenges those predictions and suggests that barred galaxies similar to the Milky Way were not as rare in the early universe as previously thought.
The study was made possible by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which provides unprecedented capabilities for studying the morphology of distant galaxies. With this new technology, scientists can investigate how galaxies acquire their current structure, shedding light on the processes of formation and evolution.
Webb Chamber and Complex Calculations
The galactic bar of ceers-2112 was identified through the analysis of images captured by the NIRCam instrument of the Webb telescope. The researchers used advanced analysis methods, such as modeling the galaxy’s light at different wavelengths and studying spatial variations using Fourier analysis.
The scientific data was obtained during the observations of the CEERS (Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science) project, led by Steven L. Finkelstein from the University of Texas. The observations took place in the Extended Groth Strip, a region of the sky located between the constellations Ursa Major and Boötes. A total of 33 researchers from 29 institutions in eight countries participated in this project.
This groundbreaking discovery provides new insights into the early universe and challenges our understanding of galaxy formation. Further studies using the James Webb Space Telescope are expected to reveal more about the mysteries of the cosmos.
Original Source: Sinc