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James Webb Space Telescope discovers candidates for most distant galaxies yet


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The two galaxies, if confirmed, existed 300 to 400 million years after the Big Bang.

Keith Cooper

July 21 2022

Astronomers have spotted what may be the two most distant galaxies ever seen hiding in early-release images from NASA's newest space telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope's early science work includes a program called the Grism Lens-Amplified Survey from Space, or GLASS. Through GLASS, astronomers are scrutinizing the galaxy cluster Abell 2744, which is so massive that its gravity is able to distort the space around it and act as a gravitational lens to magnify the images of far more distant galaxies behind it.

Astronomers led by Rohan Naidu of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics discovered the two candidate galaxies, called GLASS-z11 and GLASS-z13, in the first batch of data from GLASS. The galaxies' designations come from the fact that astronomers have measured their "redshifts" to be 11 and 13 respectively

Redshift is a measure of how much a galaxy's light has been stretched by the expansion of the universe; the higher the redshift, the farther away (and the farther back in time) we see the source. The redshifts of 11 and 13 mean that we see these two galaxies as they existed over 13.4 billion years ago, just 400 and 300 million years after the Big Bang respectively. 

The findings are not yet conclusive; the galaxies' redshifts have only been measured based on the color of their light using Webb's Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam). Confirming their redshifts will astronomers to analyze each galaxy's spectrum — the "barcode" that measures how much light of each wavelength is present — and determine how much light emitted by specific atoms and molecules has been redshifted. 


Webb's Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument is already scheduled to conduct these studies. If that work confirms the apparent redshifts, then the two galaxies will be something of a surprise to astronomers. The area of sky surveyed by GLASS so far amounts to 50 square arcminutes (the full moon measures 31 arcminutes across), and yet in that area it has already discovered two galaxies with a redshift of 11 or greater. 

That abundance would indicate that luminous galaxies in the very early universe are more common than expected. The detection also implies, Naidu's team wrote, that Webb will discover many more galaxies such as these, and perhaps even more distant ones, in its observations going forward. 


GLASS-z13, a candidate for the most distant known galaxy, as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope.  (Image credit: Naidu et al. 2022. Image: Pascal Oesch (University of Geneva & Cosmic Dawn Center, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen). Raw data: T. Treu (UCLA) and GLASS-JWST. NASA/CSA/ESA/STSc





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July 26 2022

00:00 MIRI's Commissioning Images

01:51 Andras Gaspar and Team MIRI

02:34 What is commissioning like with MIRI?

03:19 What were the first images MIRI took?

04:22 What is dithering?

06:05 Squarespace Sponsor Message

07:17 Cat's Eye Nebula

09:41 MIRI's Full Field of View

10:33 NGC 6558 Seyfert Galaxy

11:53 Looking Near the Galactic Center

13:37 Thank you, Patrons!

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Well Maybe Not.

July 28 2022

00:00 - Introduction

00:36 - Perseids Meteor Shower

02:49 - Saturn at Opposition 14th August (plus Jupiter & Moon)

03:36 - Mars & Venus 04:24 - Comet C/2017 C2

05:09 - JWST Commissioning Data Dump

06:45 - CANDIDATE most distant galaxies in JWST data claims

10:32 - JWST observes TRAPPIST-1

12:12 - A flaw in the hunt for life on Mars with Perseverance?

15:52 - A direct collapse black hole in the Large Magellanic Cloud?

19:38 - A new, weird Fast Radio Burst

22:28 - Outro

23:05 - MEL Science

25:08 - Blooper


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  • 3 weeks later...

Aug 9, 2022 Text - http://howfarawayisit.com/wp-content/...

Hello and welcome to the How Far Away Is It look at the first images released by the James Webb Space Telescope. It’s been a long wait, but I’m sure you’ll find it was worth it. I’ll start with an early test photo of stars in the Lage Magellanic Cloud. It gives us a hint as to how much more detail we can expect to see with Webb over other space telescopes. Where I can, I start segment with a Hubble image to show the contrast. We’ll take a look at the first formal image release starting with a look at the ‘cosmic cliffs’ in the Carina Nebula followed by the beautiful Southern Ring Nebula. We’ll then cover Webbs analysis of three beautiful galaxies: a bared spiral, a classic spiral and the Cartwheel Ring galaxy. Next, we’ll cover Stephan’s Quintet with a deep look at what Webb found around its central supermassive black hole. And last, we’ll take a deep dive into Webb’s first deep field image.


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