Scientists reveal the most distant galaxy we’ve ever found: ScienceAlert

The galaxy whose light has traveled nearly 13.5 billion years to reach us has been confirmed to be the oldest galaxy found to date.

By studying the galaxy’s oxygen content using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Sub-Millimeter Array (Alma), astronomers have precisely dated it to only 367 million years ago the great explosiona time when the first lights in the universe were still lit and began to spread freely through space.

The result confirms the observations made JWSTand provides new information about the early universe that tells us about the origins of the elements.

“The first images from the James Webb Space Telescope revealed so many early galaxies that we felt we had to test its results with the best observatory on Earth,” says astronomer Tom Bax Nagoya University in Japan.

“It was a very exciting time to be an observational astronomer, and we could track the status of the observations that will test the JWST results in real time.”

The galaxy, named GHZ2/glass-z12It was first spotted by JWST in July of last year, not long after the telescope opened its fragmented golden eye to the infrared light of the universe.

a paper in November Detailing the discovery, the history of the galaxy goes back to About 350 million years ago After the Big Bang that occurred about 13.8 billion years ago.

This is truly amazing, but any astronomical discovery is significantly more powerful if it can be confirmed with an independent instrument.

So a team led by Bakx and astronomer Jorge Zavala from National Astronomical Observatory of Japan They turned to the ALMA radio telescope to learn more about the fledgling galaxy.

They switched ALMA to the direction of GHZ2/GLASS-z12 and began looking for an emission signature on the oxygen-related radio spectrum.

Because oxygen takes a relatively short time to form, it is commonly used to learn more about galaxies in the early universe. As the light enters the oxygen, it is re-emitted in a specific wavelength range, which results in a brighter line on that part of the spectrum.

Image of GHZ2/GLASS-z12 with associated ALMA spectrum. (NASA/ESA/CSA/T. Treu, UCLA/NAOJ/T. Bakx, Nagoya U)

Each of the 12- and 12-m radio antennas that make up the ALMA were turned on, eventually leading to the detection of an oxygen emission line near the position of GHZ2/GLASS-z12. Follow-up analyzes and statistical tests determined that the signal was real and related to the galaxy.

“We were initially concerned about the slight difference in position between the detected oxygen emission line and the galaxy Webb saw,” Bakx explains.

“But we did detailed tests on the observations to confirm that this is a really strong detection, and it is very difficult to explain it through any other explanation.”

The very small distance between the galaxy and the oxygen emission could indicate that explosions or violent interactions stripped the galaxy of a great deal of its gas, causing it to fly into intergalactic space.

The team dated their observations to a more precise 367 million years after the Big Bang. Based on the brightness of the emission line, they were able to deduce that the galaxy formed large amounts of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium relatively quickly.

This is very interesting. the early universeBefore stars appeared, they were composed mostly of hydrogen with a smaller amount of helium. Then the stars formed. In their hot, dense cores, they began to smash atoms together, forming heavier elements.

But these elements were confined inside the stars. It wasn’t until the stars died, that I exploded An amazing supernovawhich heavier items It was able to spread across interstellar space.

This early presence of oxygen in the universe gives us some clues about the timing and evolution of this stuff The first starswhich we have not yet been able to see directly.

“These deep ALMA observations provide strong evidence for the existence of galaxies during the first few hundred million to hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang, and confirm the surprising findings from Webb’s observations,” Zavala says.

“JWST’s work is just beginning, but we are already adjusting our models of how galaxies formed in the early universe to match these observations. The combined power of Webb and the ALMA radio telescope array gives us the confidence to push our cosmic horizons closer to the dawn of the universe.”

Research published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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