The Early Calm – Onderzoekers onthullen kenmerken van het oude sterrenstelsel op 25 miljard lichtjaar afstand

Spiraalvormig Galaxy-kunstwerk

GS-9209, een sterrenstelsel ontdekt door onderzoekers uit Edinburgh en in detail beschreven door de James Webb Space Telescope, is het oudst bekende slapende sterrenstelsel, dat zich 600 tot 800 miljoen jaar na de oerknal heeft gevormd en een half miljard jaar later geen sterren meer produceert. Ondanks dat het kleiner is dan de Melkweg, bevat het een vergelijkbaar aantal sterren en een centraal superzwaar zwart gat dat vijf keer groter is dan verwacht.

Met behulp van de krachtigste telescoop tot nu toe hebben astronomen een kolossaal en dicht op elkaar gepakt sterrenstelsel ontdekt op een afstand van 25 miljard lichtjaar.

GS-9209, een sterrenstelsel dat slechts 600 tot 800 miljoen jaar later verscheen[{” attribute=””>Big Bang, has been identified as the earliest galaxy of its type ever discovered, according to scientists.

Detailed properties of GS-9209 were revealed for the first time through the use of the James Webb Space Telescope, under the direction of a team of researchers from Edinburgh.

Star-studded galaxy

Despite being around 10 times smaller than the These have a combined mass around 40 billion times that of our Sun, and were formed rapidly before star formation in GS-9209 stopped, the team says.

GS-9209 is the earliest known example of a galaxy no longer forming stars – known as a quiescent galaxy. When the team observed it at 1.25 billion years after the Big Bang, no stars had formed in the galaxy for about half a billion years.

GS 9209

GS-9209 observed by the James Webb Space Telescope next to other galaxies. Credit: G. Brammer, C. Williams, A. Carnall

Vast distance

The galaxy is 25 billion light years away today, researchers say, but when the light started traveling from it to us about 12.5 billion years ago, it was much closer, because the Universe is expanding.

This means, despite the Universe being an estimated 13.8 billion years old, it is possible to see things as far away as around 45 billion light-years, they add.

Shutdown theory

The analysis also shows that GS-9209 contains a supermassive

The growth of supermassive black holes releases huge amounts of high-energy radiation, which can heat up and push gas out of galaxies. This could have caused star formation in GS-9209 to stop, as stars form when clouds of dust and gas particles inside galaxies collapse under their own weight.

Dr. Adam Carnall states, “The

Reference: “A massive quiescent galaxy at redshift 4.658” by Adam C. Carnall, Ross J. McLure, James S. Dunlop, Derek J. McLeod, Vivienne Wild, Fergus Cullen, Dan Magee, Ryan Begley, Andrea Cimatti, Callum T. Donnan, Massissilia L. Hamadouche, Sophie M. Jewell and Sam Walker, 22 May 2023, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06158-6

The study was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Science and Technology Facilities Council, and UK Research and Innovation.

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