Washington (US), June 6 (ANI): Astronomers using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have detected complex organic molecules in the most distant galaxy ever.
The study was published in the journal Nature.
The discovery of molecules found in Earth’s smoke, fumes, and smoke demonstrates Webb’s ability to understand the complex chemistry that goes hand-in-hand with the birth of new stars even in the early history of the universe. The new findings, at least for galaxies, call into question the adage “where there’s smoke there’s fire.” Previous research suggests that children who are breastfed for longer periods of time have better educational outcomes later in life. However, these are rare, and factors that may influence the results, such as the fact that mothers with higher socioeconomic status or intelligence scores are more likely to breastfeed their children longer and have higher birth weight, have not been considered. Exam Result
Using the Webb Telescope, Texas A&M University astronomer Justin Spilker and colleagues have detected organic molecules in a galaxy 12 billion light-years away. The light astronomers detected began its journey when the universe was less than 1.5 billion years old — about 10% of its current age. The galaxy was first discovered by the National Science Foundation’s South Pole Telescope in 2013 and has since been studied by several observatories, including the ALMA radio telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope.
Spilker notes that the discovery, reported this week in the journal Nature, was made possible by the combined forces of Webb and Fate, with a little help from a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. Lensing, predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, occurs when two galaxies align almost perfectly from our perspective on Earth. Light from the background galaxy stretches and magnifies the foreground galaxy, forming a ring known as the Einstein Ring.
“By combining the amazing capabilities of the web with the natural ‘cosmic magnifying glass,’ we were able to see more detail than we ever could,” said Spilker, assistant professor in the Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy and George Fellow. P., Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy. “This level of magnification really got us interested in looking at this galaxy with the web, because it allows us to see all the rich details of what this early universe galaxy is, and isn’t.”
Data from the Web found a signature of large organic molecules like smoke and smog — the building blocks of the same cancer-causing hydrocarbon emissions on Earth that are major causes of air pollution. However, Spilker says the implications of galactic smoke signals for their cosmic habitat are minimal.
“These large molecules are actually quite common in space,” Spilker explained. “Astronomers thought that was a good sign that new stars were forming. Wherever you saw these molecules, baby stars were burning up.”
New results from Webb show that this idea may not exactly ring true in the early universe, according to Spilker.
“Thanks to high-definition images from the web, we found many regions with smoke but no star formation, and others where new stars are forming but no smoke,” Spilker added.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduate student Kedar Phadke, who led the technical development of the team’s Web observations, noted that astronomers are using the Web to make connections across the vastness of space with unprecedented potential.
“Discoveries like this are built to do exactly that: understand the early stages of the universe in new and exciting ways,” Phadke said. “It’s amazing that we can recognize molecules billions of light-years away that we’re familiar with here on Earth, even if they appear in ways we don’t like, like smoke and fumes, and it’s a powerful statement about amazing. Webb’s capabilities that we’ve never had before.”
The team was led by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center astronomer Jane Rigby, University of Illinois professor Joaquin Vieira, and dozens of astronomers from around the world.
The discovery was Webb’s first discovery of complex molecules in the early universe — a landmark moment that Spilker sees as a beginning rather than an end.
“It’s early days for the Web telescope, so astronomers are excited to see all the new things it can do for us,” Spilker said. “Finding smoke in a galaxy early in the universe’s history? The web makes it easy. We’ve shown for the first time that it’s possible, so we’re looking forward to finding out if that’s actually true. Smoke, there’s fire, and maybe we can even find galaxies that are very young, and complex molecules like this have yet to form in the vacuum of space.” There is no time, so galaxies are all fire, not smoke. The only way to know is to look at more galaxies, hopefully even more distant ones.” (ANI)