How galaxies formed after the Big Bang

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How did the very first stars and galaxies form after the Big Bang? To find answers, a group of astronomers at the University of Arizona is using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to peer deeper into the universe and farther back in time than ever before. The observations were made as part of the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey, or JADES, which is dedicated to uncovering and studying extremely faint, distant galaxies.

“We’re finding more galaxies than people originally thought we would,” said Dr. Marcia Rieke, Regents’ Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Rieke leads the JADES program and was allocated 450 hours to use the JWST for observations. The observations have led astronomers to conclude star formation in the early universe is much more complicated than they thought.

“Our basic theory of how things work seems okay, but there are a bunch of details we need to tune up, and we still have hopes of really coming to grips for how our very own Milky Way formed, and we’re getting a lot more pieces to that puzzle together here,” said Dr. Rieke.

Dr. Rieke and her research group have observed nearly 45,000 galaxies using the telescope, and a few thousand of those are believed to be infant galaxies. The JADES program is hopeful their observations can help further their research on how these galaxies formed after the Big Bang.

“We’ll have a better understanding of our place in the universe is basically how we’re gonna end up here,” said Dr. Rieke.

Dr. Marcia Rieke, Regents' Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona

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