The James Webb Telescope finds two of the oldest and most distant galaxies ever James Webb Space Telescope

NASA James Webb Space Telescope It finds bright, early galaxies hitherto hidden from view, including galaxies that may have formed just 350 million years after the Big Bang.

If the results are verified, astronomers said Thursday, this newly discovered group of stars will surpass the most distant galaxy identified by the Hubble Space Telescope – a record holder that formed 400 million years after the beginning of the universe.

The Webb telescope, launched last December as successor to the Hubble telescope, indicates that stars may have formed sooner than previously thought — perhaps within two million years of the Big Bang.

Side-by-side images of distant galaxies, appearing as elliptical reddish blurs against the blackness of space
Close-up of two newly discovered galaxies. Photo: European Space Agency, US Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency, STScI/AFP/Getty Images

The latest web discoveries Detailed in Astrophysical Journal Letters by an international team led by Rohan Naidu of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The article describes two exceptionally bright galaxies, the first believed to have formed 350 million years after the Big Bang and another 450 million years after it.

Naidoo said more infrared observations by Webb would be needed before he could claim the new record holder.

Scientists said in the journal NASA Press Conference. They pointed out that some of them may be later galaxies that mimic earlier galaxies.

“This is a very dynamic time,” said Garth Illingworth of the University of California, Santa Cruz, a co-author of the article published Thursday. “There’s been a lot of preliminary announcements about older galaxies, and we’re still trying to sort out as a community which ones are likely to be real.”

The evidence provided so far is “strong as it gets” for the galaxy thought to have formed 350 meters away after the Big Bang, said Tommaso Treu of UCLA, lead scientist for the Webb Early Science Launch program.

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If the results are verified and there are more early galaxies, Raido and his team write that Webb “will prove very successful in pushing the cosmic frontier to the brink of the Big Bang.”

Two starfields with positioning boxes showing the galaxies, with draggable enlarged images of the galaxies themselves in the center
A handout image from the Webb Telescope’s Near Infrared Camera shows distant galaxies in the outer regions of the giant galaxy cluster Abell 2744. Photo: European Space Agency, US Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency, STScI/AFP/Getty Images

“When and how the first galaxies formed remains one of the most intriguing questions,” the researchers write.

These galaxies “were hiding under the limits of what Hubble could do,” noted NASA’s Jane Rigby, a project scientist with Webb.

“They were there waiting for us,” she told reporters. “So it’s a happy surprise that there are so many of these galaxies to study.”

The $10 billion observatory — the largest and most powerful telescope ever sent into space — is in solar orbit about 1 million miles (1.6 million km) from Earth. Full science operations began over the summer, and NASA has since released a series of Impressive shots Universe.

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