For the first time, new images of the James Webb Space Telescope have revealed galaxies with star bars at a time when the universe was a quarter of its present age.
Stellar bars are elongated features of stars that extend from the centers of galaxies to their outer disks. They funnel gas into the central regions, which drives star formation.
In a statement, the University of Texas said the finding of the barred galaxies will require scientists to refine their theories of galaxy evolution, noting that the Hubble Space Telescope had never detected bars at such young times.
For example, while the galaxy EGS-23205 appears blurry in a Hubble image, the Webb image is sharper, revealing a spiral galaxy with a clear star bar.
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The James Webb Space Telescope has a larger mirror, giving it greater light-gathering ability and allowing it to see further with higher resolution.
as observed infrared wavelengths longer than Hubbleyou can also see better through dust.
“I took one look at this data and said, ‘Let’s throw everything else out!'” Shardha Jogee, a professor of astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement describing the Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science data. Survey. (CEERS).
Another barred galaxy, EGS-24268, is also from about 11 billion years ago, making two barred galaxies exist further back in time than previously discovered.
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The international group of researchers highlighted these galaxies and showed examples of four others from more than 8 billion years ago in an article in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Two undergraduate students played a key role in visually reviewing hundreds of galaxies and looking for those that could be analyzed with a more strict mathematical approach.
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The bars also help in the formation of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies, funneling the gas part of the way.
The existence of these bars, the university said, challenges theoretical models, and the team will test different models in additional work.
“This discovery of early bars means that models of galaxy evolution now have a new path through bars to accelerate the production of new stars at early epochs,” Jogee said.
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