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Telescope discovers oldest 'dead' galaxy in the universe

Telescope discovers oldest 'dead' galaxy in the universe

Astronomers have made a remarkable discovery that explores the deepest depths of the universe. Using the James Webb Space Telescope, the team identified the oldest “dead” galaxy on record. This discovery contributes significantly to the understanding of the universe, and paves the way for a new era of astronomical exploration.

A quick look at the early universe

This unique galaxy, which is already 13.8 billion years old, is located at an incredibly distant distance from Earth. Its existence dates back to a time when the universe was only about 700 million years old. Despite belonging to the beginning of time, star formation stopped prematurely in this galaxy, a feature that still challenges astronomers. The report detailing the discovery was published in the famous journal Nature.

Find answers at the beginning of time

According to researchers, studying this ancient galaxy could bring important discoveries about the origin of the universe and the factors that affect star formation. “The first million years of the universe was a very active period, with many gas clouds collapsing to form new stars,” explained study leader Tobias Loeser, a PhD student in extragalactic astrophysics at the Kavli Institute of Cosmology at the University of Cambridge.

Scientists were surprised to discover a galaxy that matured quickly and died young shortly after the Big Bang. “Normally, only later in the universe do we start to see galaxies stop forming stars,” says Francesco DiEugenio, co-author of the paper and a postdoctoral astrophysicist at the Kavli Institute of Cosmology.

Mysteries of the end of star formation

The end of star formation occurs when a galaxy is deprived of the gas needed to generate new stars. However, why this suddenly happened in this particular galaxy has not yet been determined. There is general agreement that massive black holes or violent interactions between stars can expel gas into galaxies, quickly halting star formation. However, researchers are still unsure whether any of these scenarios can explain what happened to JADES-GS-z7-01-QU, the galaxy newly discovered by Webb's instruments.

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Towards a better understanding of the universe

The research team looks forward to continuing to study this strange galaxy and identifying the conditions that lead to the cessation of star formation. Systems may die and then come back to life. “We will need more observations to help us figure this out,” DiEugenio concluded.

The discovery of this galaxy is a real game changer in astrophysics and gives astronomers an unprecedented view of the ancient universe. Thanks to the James Webb Telescope, many exciting discoveries are yet to come.