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The James Webb telescope reveals: galaxies in the early universe have a long and flat shape

The first galaxies were much less developed than the spiral and spherical galaxies that exist today, which are actually the result of mergers, both because of the stage of development but also because of the conditions that prevailed at the time

long image captionThis is part of the Evolution of the Universe Early Science Survey (CEERS), consisting of several near-infrared points from the NIRCam (Near Infrared Camera) camera on the James Webb Space Telescope. These observations are being made in the same region studied by the Hubble Space Telescope, known as the Extended Groth Belt. Arrows showing the directions north and east show the direction of the image in the sky. It should be noted that the relationship between north and east in the sky (as seen from below) is reversed compared to the half directions on the map of the earth (as seen from above). The image shows invisible near-infrared wavelengths converted to visible colors. The color key shows which NIRCam filters were used to collect the light. The name color of each filter is the visible color that represents the infrared light passing through that filter. The barrel ruler is marked with arc-seconds which are a measure of angular distance in the sky. One arc-second is equal to an angular measurement of 1/3600 of one degree. There are 60 arc-minutes in a degree and 60 arc-seconds in an arc-minute. (The full moon has an angular diameter of about 30 arc-minutes.) The actual size of an object that covers one arc-second in the sky depends on its distance from the telescope. Credit: NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), Steve Finkelstein (University of Texas at Austin)
Image of the Early Science Survey of the Evolution of the Universe (CEERS), consisting of several points in the near-infrared region from the NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) camera on the James Webb Space Telescope. These observations are being made in the same region studied by the Hubble Space Telescope, known as the Extended Groth Belt. Arrows showing the directions north and east show the direction of the image in the sky. It should be noted that the relationship between north and east in the sky (as seen from below) is reversed compared to the half directions on the map of the earth (as seen from above). The image shows invisible near-infrared wavelengths converted to visible colors. The color key shows which NIRCam filters were used to collect the light. The name color of each filter is the visible color that represents the infrared light passing through that filter. The barrel ruler is marked with arc-seconds which are a measure of angular distance in the sky. One arc-second is equal to an angular measurement of 1/3600 of one degree. There are 60 arc-minutes in a degree and 60 arc-seconds in an arc-minute. (The full moon has an angular diameter of about 30 arc-minutes.) The actual size of an object that covers one arc-second in the sky depends on its distance from the telescope. Credit: NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), Steve Finkelstein (University of Texas at Austin)

A study based on images from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope reveals that in the early universe, most galaxies had a long and flat shape, similar to surfboards and "pool noodles", in contrast to the round and rounded shape of closer galaxies.

According to the data of the study, conducted by Viraj Pandya, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University in New York, about 50% to 80% of galaxies during the period when the universe was between 600 million and 6 billion years old, had a flat and elongated shape. The findings are based on an analysis of near-infrared images from the Webb Space Telescope's CEERS survey.

The study found that "surfboard" and "pool tube" shaped galaxies were especially common when the universe was younger. This discovery contrasts with our previous understanding of closer galaxies, which are usually characterized by a clear spiral shape with starry arms or a smooth elliptical shape.

The research was carried out under the guidance of Pandya, in collaboration with the American Space Foundation of NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute. It is also supported by observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which has helped study galaxies from the early universe to the present day.

The importance of the research lies in its impact on our understanding of the structure of the universe in its first periods and how the galaxies developed over time. The new discoveries may help researchers better understand the processes of development and evolution of galaxies, and offer new explanations for ancient questions about the structure and shape of the universe.

Although the research is groundbreaking, the researchers emphasize that there is still much to learn and research on the subject. They plan to carry out further studies in the future, with the aim of deepening our understanding of the structure of galaxies and their evolution processes. This research is just the beginning of a new era of space exploration, where we can reveal more and more about the mysteries of the early universe.

The reasons for the different shapes of galaxies in the early universe:

  • Development stages of galaxies: Galaxies undergo processes of development and evolution over billions of years. In the early stages of the universe, the galaxies were relatively young and did not go through the development processes that turned them into more complex structures like we see today. This could explain why they had simpler shapes, like surfboards or pool noodles.
  • The conditions in the early universe: In the early stages of the universe, conditions were very different from those of today. The matter in the universe was denser and the gravitational fluctuations that created the galaxies may be the reason for the long and flat shapes. As the universe expanded and cooled, galaxies could evolve into more complex shapes.
  • Collisions and galaxy mergers: Throughout the history of the universe, collisions and mergers of galaxies have been more common. These processes can change the shape of the galaxy and lead to new and different shapes.
  • Material accumulation: Galaxies in their early stages have accreted material from the surrounding universe, a process that can affect their shape. As a galaxy accumulated more matter, it could evolve into more complex shapes.
  • Changes in rotation speed: The speed at which a galaxy rotates can affect its shape. In the early stages, the rotation speeds and internal dynamics of the galaxies were different, which could explain some of the unique shapes found.

for the scientific article

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4 תגובות

  1. A little simple physical understanding will not harm most scientists, anything at the beginning of its journey that is sent with power, will be initially not round.

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