James Webb may have photographed the oldest galaxy in the known universe to date

Early analysis shows that GLASS – z13 , imaged by the James Webb , originated only 300 million years after the Big Bang.


With only a few days of official activity and more than six months since its launch, the James Webb telescope has already made a series of discoveries that are in the debate of the entire scientific community and the latest one is the observation of one of the first forming galaxies throughout the universe.

According to a new study, the first color photograph published by James Webb shows a galaxy that originated just 300 million years after the Big Bang.

The oldest in the known universe

The galaxy is named GLASS-z13 and, according to a study that can already be seen on ArXiV , it would have formed only 300 million years after the big bang, 100 million years before any galaxy identified to date.

Although GLASS – z13 existed in the earliest era of the universe, its exact age is unknown, as it could have formed anytime within the first 300 million years.

“We’re potentially seeing the most distant starlight anyone has ever seen,” said Rohan Naidu of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics.

GLASS – z13 was detected in so-called “early release” data from the orbiting observatory’s main infrared imager, called NIRcam.

When translated from the infrared to the visible spectrum, the galaxy appears as a red patch with white in the center, as part of a larger picture of the distant cosmos called the “deep field.”

Peer review missing

Naidu and his colleagues, a team of 25 astronomers from around the world, have submitted their findings to a scientific journal.

By using data collected through different infrared filters pointed at the same region of space, they were able to detect where these photon falls occurred, from which they inferred the presence of these more distant galaxies .

For example, the galaxy has the mass of a billion suns, which is “potentially very surprising, and that’s something we don’t really understand” given how little time it formed after the Big Bang, Naidu said.

For now, the research is published on a “preprint” server, so it comes with the caveat that it hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet, but it has already thrown the global astronomical community into an uproar.