Tiny bright objects discovered at dawn of universe baffle scientists | Science & Technology

A recent discovery by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) confirmed that luminous, very red objects previously detected in the early universe upend conventional thinking about the origins and evolution of galaxies and their supermassive black holes.

An international team, led by Penn State researchers, using the NIRSpec instrument aboard JWST as part of the RUBIES survey identified three mysterious objects in the early universe, about 600-800 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only 5% of its current age. They announced the discovery today (June 27) in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The team studied spectral measurements, or intensity of different wavelengths of light emitted from the objects. Their analysis found signatures of “old” stars, hundreds of millions of years old, far older than expected in a young universe.

The researchers said they were also surprised to discover signatures of huge supermassive black holes in the same objects, estimating that they are 100 to 1,000 times more massive than the supermassive black hole in our own Milky Way. Neither of these are expected in current models of galaxy growth and supermassive black hole formation, which expect galaxies and their black holes to grow together over billions of years of cosmic history.

“We have confirmed that these appear to be packed with ancient stars — hundreds of millions of years old — in a universe that is only 600-800 million years old. Remarkably, these objects hold the record for the earliest signatures of old starlight,” said Bingjie Wang, a postdoctoral scholar at Penn State and lead author on the paper. “It was totally unexpected to find old stars in a very young universe. The standard models of cosmology and galaxy formation have been incredibly successful, yet, these luminous objects do not quite fit comfortably into those theories.”

The researchers first spotted the massive objects in July of 2022, when the initial dataset was released from JWST. The…

Source www.sciencedaily.com

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