The Maisie galaxy discovered by the James Webb Space Telescope is among the oldest ever observed

The Maisie galaxy discovered by the James Webb Space Telescope is among the oldest ever observed

Yesterday we wrote about how the James Webb space telescope managed to confirm the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-39 b. But the new scientific instrument has many objectives to observe by shedding new light on different aspects of our Universe. One of these concerns the analysis of primordial galaxies, those formed shortly after the Big Bang.

JWST’s image of the Maisie galaxy. Click on the image to enlarge

A first glimpse had been given with the release of the Deep Field where the cluster of galaxies had been highlighted SMACS 0723. In this image it was possible to observe, thanks to the NIRSpec instrument, objects with an age of 13.1 billion years. However, new analyzes have highlighted a whole series of new ones primordial galaxies like that call Maisiein honor of the daughter of project leader Steven Finkelstein.

The Maisie Galaxy and the James Webb Space Telescope

According to what has been reported in recent days the galaxy Maisie it would have formed only 290 million years after the Big Bang (reaching a red shift of z = 14). In astronomical terms, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang are actually a few years and this will allow us to understand what was the evolution of the Universe at the beginning of life and which celestial objects were present (and with which characteristics).


The image captured by NIRCam. Click on the image to enlarge

Thanks to the ability of the James Webb space telescope to be able to observe in the infrared with a resolution never seen before is easier for scientists to look for objects with a very pronounced red shift. The discovery of Maisieonce confirmed, would shift the start of galaxy formation sooner than some scientists thought.

Even the very structure of primordial galaxies would confirm a certain heterogeneity with galaxies similar to the spiral ones we already know, others with less complex shapes. The sky area observed from JWST it’s in the Big Dipper constellation and took 24 hours.

The same Steven Finkelstein (head of the Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science Survey or CEERS) said “It is amazing to see a bright spot observed by Hubble transform into an entire galaxy with a marvelous shape in these new images by James Webb, and other galaxies appear out of nowhere”.

jwst miri

Overall, the wide field image, visible in the first part of the news, is the result of the union of several frames (690 to be precise) exploiting the NIRCam tool. By way of comparison, the covered sky area is about eight times larger than Webb’s first Deep Field. For data analysis, i Stampede2 supercomputer (47th in the TOP500 ranking) e Frontera (16th in the standings). The first had the task of reducing the background noise and removing the artifacts, the second instead the formation of the final mosaic.

In order to have further data to be analyzed, a medium resolution image was also created using it MIRI tool. The latter has a smaller field of view than NIRCam but a higher resolution. The CEERS observation campaign will collect new data in December 2022 using a total observation time of 60 hours. Among the objectives will be spectroscopic analyzes of primordial galaxies providing new data to know the evolution of the Universe.

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