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James Webb discovered the oldest “dead” galaxy in the universe

James Webb discovered the oldest “dead” galaxy in the universe

A remarkable discovery has just been revealed by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope: the oldest “dead” galaxy ever observed in the universe. Called JADES-GS-z7-01-QU, it challenges conventional explanations about the early universe.

What makes this galaxy unique is the fact that it suddenly stopped forming stars just 700 million years after the Big Bang. In this early cosmic period, many stars appeared in different parts of the universe, fueled by an abundance of gas and dust.

What you will read here:

  • The James Webb Space Telescope discovered the oldest “dead” galaxy in the universe;
  • Being “dead” means that it is no longer producing stars;
  • However, she is relatively young to sign a surprise contract;
  • Discovering what happened to this “cosmic corpse” could revolutionize our understanding of the beginning of time and the evolution of the universe.

It was recently reported in A Article in the magazine natureJADES-GS-z7-01-QU offers astronomers a peek into fundamental mysteries of galaxy evolution in the early universe.

An image from the James Webb Space Telescope highlights JADES-GS-z7-01-QU, the oldest “dead” galaxy ever observed. Credit: JADES Collaboration

Galaxies stop forming stars later in the universe's history

on statementThe study's lead author, Tobias Loeser, a researcher at the Kavli Institute of Cosmology in Cambridge, UK, compared the early universe to a “self-service buffet” for galaxies, highlighting the need for an abundant supply of gas to birth new organisms. stars.

Surprisingly, current theories cannot explain how JADES-GS-z7-01-QU not only formed so quickly, less than a billion years after the universe began, but also ended its star production so abruptly.

Francesco DiEugenio, one of the study's co-authors, highlighted that normally, galaxies begin to stop forming stars later in the evolution of the universe.

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This creates a dilemma, as other known “dead” galaxies stopped producing stars when the universe was about three billion years old. The early universe appears to have witnessed faster and more dramatic events, including galaxies transitioning from star formation to an inactive or extinct state.

The James Webb Space Telescope's powerful infrared vision makes it easier to penetrate the thick layer of dust hiding the oldest objects in the universe. Credit: Vadim Sadovsky – Shutterstock

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To uncover the secrets of JADES-GS-z7-01-QU, Loeser and his team used the James Webb Space Telescope's powerful infrared vision to penetrate the thick layer of dust hiding the oldest objects in the universe.

In addition to being the oldest “dead” galaxy on record, JADES-GS-z7-01-QU is significantly lighter than other similar dormant galaxies found in the same cosmic period.

What data from the James Webb Telescope reveals

Webb's data indicate that this galaxy formed stars intensively for 30 to 90 million years before it suddenly extinguished. The reason for this closure is still unknown, but astronomers suggest possible factors such as internal turbulence or a lack of gas to support star formation.

Current theories, based on the modern universe, cannot fully explain the distinctive properties of JADES-GS-z7-01-QU. These models need to be revised to understand this pioneering galaxy.

Another possible explanation suggests that galaxies in the early universe could “die” and then be resurrected. However, previous research suggests that “dead” galaxies from this age cannot be rejuvenated, even by merging with nearby galaxies.

“We will need more observations to help us discover this,” Diogenio highlights about solving this cosmic mystery. By exploring the far reaches of the universe, astronomers can decipher these and other mysteries, expanding our understanding of cosmic complexity.

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