New data from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals that the structures of galaxies in the early universe were more diverse and mature than previously known. Scientists recently compared images of hundreds of galaxies taken by JWST’s Cosmic Evolution Early Science Survey (CEERS) with corresponding images taken previously by the Hubble Space Telescope and presented the results at the 241st meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
The study examined 850 galaxies at a redshift of z 3-9, or as they were approximately 11-13 billion years ago. JWST’s ability to see faint, high-redshift galaxies in much finer detail than Hubble allowed the team of researchers to resolve more features and see a broad mix of galaxies, including many mature galaxies, said Associate Professor Cihan Kartaltepe of Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Physics and Astronomy. . Features such as discs and spherical components.
“There were previous studies confirming that we see a lot of galaxies with disks at a high redshift, and this is true, but in this study we also see a lot of galaxies with other structures, such as spheroids and irregular shapes, as we do in ours,” said Kartaltepe, lead author. This means that even at these high redshifts, the galaxies were already somewhat evolved and had a wide range of structures.
Study results published on arXiv and accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal, showing the advances made by the JWST in depth, resolution and wavelength coverage over Hubble. Of the 850 galaxies used in the study and previously identified by Hubble, 488 have been reclassified to different configurations after being viewed in greater detail using the JWST. Kartaltepe said scientists are just beginning to reap the benefits of JWST’s remarkable capabilities and are excited about what the upcoming data will reveal.
“This tells us that we don’t know yet when the first galactic structures formed,” Kartaltepe said. “We haven’t yet seen the first galaxies with disks. We’ll have to examine more galaxies at higher redshifts to determine the point in time at which features like disks can form.”
The study used a raw data set captured by CEERS when JWST first came online in June, but the survey has since captured a total of 60 observing hours, which could provide thousands of higher redshift galaxies for further exploration. Kartaltepe said COSMOS-Web, the largest general observer program selected for JWST’s first year, will provide an even larger sample in 255 hours of observing time with the telescope. COSMOS-Web launched its monitoring campaign this month.
Many of Kartaltepe’s collaborators on the study were RIT students, including astrophysics sciences and technology. students Caitlin Rose, Brittany Vanderhoof, and Isabella Cox; PhD in Imaging Sciences. student James Liu; and undergraduate physics student Jayse Petersen.
Jeyhan S. Kartaltepe et al, CEERS Key Paper IV: The Diversity of Galaxy Structure and Morphology at z = 3–9 with JWST, arXiv (2022). doi: 10.48550/arxiv.2210.14713
Provided by Rochester Institute of Technology
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