The james webb space telescope captured images of light bending in the distant universe, and astrophysicists debate whether what can be seen is a galactic merger, which would be the most distant recorded to date, reported the Aeronautical and Space Agency (NASA).
Webb’s mirror used the gravity of a cluster of galaxies to observe one of them, but experts warned that, based on preliminary research, the telescope may be seeing two galaxies and not one.
“We are actively discussing whether it is two galaxies or two groups of stars within one galaxy,” said astronomer Dan Coe of the Space Telescope Science Institute, who works with the instruments for Webb’s near-infrared camera, in a NASA statement.
the webb is the most powerful space telescope ever built. It has a 6.5-meter primary mirror made up of 18 gold-coated hexagonal segments and a five-layer sunshade the size of a tennis court, the researchers said.
About ten years ago the hubble space telescope – which orbits around the Earth – managed to capture distant objects called MACS0647-JD, as a “pale red dot” formed only 400 million years after the Big Bang that started the universe, according to Coe.
While the Webb revealed that one object was actually two, the nature of what the new telescope is observing remains a matter of debate among researchers.
If Webb saw two galaxies, there is an even more complex possibility: a galactic merger could be in progress in the early universe.
Whether you’re looking at two star clusters or two galaxies, there are clear differences between them: one set of objects is slightly bluer with lots of stars, and the other is slightly redder with lots of dust.
The expected 20 years of space-based Webb observations will greatly expand our catalog of early galaxies from “just dozens” of objects to many more, said Rebecca Larson, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin.
“Studying them can help us understand how they evolved into galaxies like the one we live in today and also how the universe evolved over time,” Larson said. He added that he looks forward to Webb being able to create single-point “deep fields.” in the sky, as its predecessor Hubble did numerous times, as this will discover even more objects in the early universe.