An image of the galaxy cluster Abell 2744, also known as Pandora, revealed another surprise. After astronomers discovered the farthest galaxy ever there, a new study announced the discovery of the second and fourth galaxies farthest from Earth.
This image of Abell 2744, taken by NASA’s James Webb Telescope, is a deep-field image. This means that it is a small area of the sky that detects objects at moderate to maximum distances. This has already led to amazing discoveries, such as a giant star 11.2 billion light-years away.
In this same image, recorded in 2022, there are about 60,000 light sources, but for now, the researchers have selected 700 candidates for studies. Of these galaxies, eight were expected to be among the first. They were right, because JD1, the most distant galaxy ever discovered, had been discovered.
Now, thanks to spectroscopic data from Webb, an international team led by scientists at Penn State’s Eberly College of Science has confirmed the distance between two other ancient galaxies and their properties, detailed in a study published in 2018. Astriphipsychal Journal Letters.
Scientists concluded that the light from these galaxies traveled to Earth about 13.4 billion years ago, that is, about 400 million years after the Big Bang. Because of the expansion of the universe, the actual distance between these galaxies is currently 33 billion years. This makes it the second and fourth farthest ever found.
Interestingly, these galaxies appear larger than others found at great distances. They usually appear as red dots, but the two recently discovered are shaped like peanuts, according to the authors’ description. This discovery may be important in studies of galaxy evolution.
Calculations indicate that the diameter of one of these galaxies is 2,000 light-years, or about six times the diameter of the other three galaxies discovered at similar distances. Since the universe 13.4 billion years ago was much more compact than it is today, this measurement is surprising.
“Very little is known about the early universe, and the only way to learn about this time and test our theories about the formation and growth of early galaxies is through these very distant galaxies,” explains Bingyi Wang, lead author of the paper. Wang is a postdoctoral researcher at Penn State.
He added, “Before the analysis, we only knew of three confirmed galaxies at this extreme distance.” Studying these new galaxies and their properties has revealed the diversity of galaxies in the early universe and how much we can learn from them.
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