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James Webb Space Telescope’s Latest Puzzle? ‘Schrodinger’s Galaxy Candidate’

Astronomers armed with early data obtained by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) are hunting galaxies that existed just a couple hundred million years following the Big Bang.

Rohan Naidu, an astrophysicist based at Harvard’s and Smithsonian’s jointly operated Center for Astrophysics, and his colleagues have already been particularly proficient at uncovering these cosmic relics.

A few days following the JWST’s first images were beamed over the planet in July,Naidu and his collaborators dropped a paper that reverberated over the web, picking right up a genuine head of steam on social media marketing. Using data from the ‘scope, the researchers announced that they’d discovered an applicant for probably the most distant galaxy ever seen, dubbed GLASS-z13. Then, not seven days later, aamount of groups found candidate galaxies ever farther away.

It isn’t surprising, then, that people have another candidate.

In a pre-print paper, released on Aug. 5 yet to endure peer review, Naidu and colleagues have detailed another distant galaxy candidate, in one of JWST’s early release science programs, referred to as CEERS-1749. It’s an exceptionally bright galaxy that, if confirmed, could have existed just 220 million years following the Big Bang — also it may possibly also rewrite our knowledge of the cosmos.

But there is a huge catch.

CEERS-1749 could possibly be probably the most distant galaxies we’ve ever seen. Or it may be lurking much nearer to home. Essentially, the info appears to indicate two possible places for the galaxy to be — and we won’t know which is correct with out a many more observation. That’s earned it the title of “Schrodinger’s galaxy candidate” in the paper submitted to pre-print repository, arXiv, on Aug. 4.

So, how do a galaxy like Schrodinger (the name we’re running with because it’s a lot more fun than CEERS-1749) appear to be in two different places? It’s about redshift.

To find out what lengths away a galaxy lies, astronomers study wavelengths of light. Specifically, they’re thinking about a phenomenon of light referred to as redshift. The bottom line is, light waves leaving distant galaxies get stretched as time passes, shifting the waves down the electromagnetic spectrum and making them more, well… red. So, ultraviolet light leaving a galaxy like Schrodinger won’t reach Earth as ultraviolet light. Instead, it’ll be redshifted into the infrared, that is ideal for us because that’s just the type of light JWST looks for.

And JWST has various filters, considering distinct wavelengths of infrared. In examining a galaxy like Schrodinger, it is possible to search the wavelengths as if you might search an image album. On the initial few pages — fewer red wavelengths — you will not visit a thing. Then, as you turn through and the wavelengths are more red, the ghost of a galaxy appears. In probably the most redshifted wavelengths, behind the album, the galaxy is really a clearly defined object.

Redshift is denoted by the parameterz and higher z values mean a far more distant object. Among the confirmed most-distant galaxies discovered up to now, GN-z11, includes azvalue of 11.09. Regarding Schrodinger, the study team state it might have a z value of around 17. That could mean this light is from the time some 13.6 billion years back.

This might also mean we may have to rethink our types of how galaxies evolved in the initial days of the universe — galaxies from that way back when shouldn’t be this bright, at the very least based on the model we currently use to describe our cosmos.

But maybe we won’t need to break physics at this time.

The team suggest there’s good environmental evidence that Schrodinger’s zvalue may be around 5, which may mean its light is approximately 12.5 billion yrs . old. Other galaxies in your community around Schrodinger all lie at concerning this distance. It could even be that Schrodinger is really a satellite galaxy of 1 of its more massive neighbors.

But wait, there’s more! Another band of researchers also studied this identical galaxy from the first release data, publishing their very own leads to arXiv on a single day. Jorge Zavala, an astrophysicist at ALMA Japan, and his team put into the JWST data with data from an Earth-based telescopes in the French Alps and Hawaii.

They deducted that Schrodinger may be an imposter masquerading as a high-redshift galaxy if it is actually a much closer, dusty galaxy undergoing rapid star formation.

The take-home message? Focus on this perplexing galaxy candidate is incomplete. JWST has had the opportunity to review the intensity of the light emitted by Schrodinger, but we are in need of more measurements. Specifically, spectroscopy allows astrophysicists to scrutinize its redshift more accurately. The only real barrier now could be time — getting plenty of time on telescopes all over the world to review Schrodinger and solve the puzzle.

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