Scientists have long pondered the evolution of galaxies, yet the early stages of their formation remained veiled in cosmic enigma.
An international consortium, featuring researchers from Kyoto University and Saint Mary’s University, has recently unveiled a nascent galaxy, made visible through the remarkable lens of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
This infant galaxy presents compelling evidence that its rapid growth owes itself to the merger of two diminutive galaxies, which converged in the universe’s ancient annals.
Dubbed as ELG1 and ELG2, these two minuscule galaxies are discernible in JWST’s imagery, providing invaluable insights into the mechanisms behind galaxy genesis.
“In a fascinating display of Einstein’s gravitational lensing effect, the JWST allows us to perceive this galaxy twice, akin to a mirage in the desert, as light reaches us from marginally distinct angles,” explains Marcin Sawicki of Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia.
Studying this newborn galaxy has unveiled a crucial revelation: when smaller constituents like ELG1 and ELG2 collide and amalgamate, galaxies experience dramatic surges in star formation, as elucidated by Yoshi Asada, lead author from Kyoto University.
The data from JWST, meticulously collected by the international team, has unveiled two distinct images of these merging galaxies, a result of light bending around the massive galaxy cluster MACS 0417, situated between the observers and the colliding galactic pair.
The incandescent glow evident in these images, caused by ionized hydrogen gas, serves as testimony to the emergence of scorching young stars within these fledgling galaxies.
Asada, in collaboration with other Canadian astronomers including Professor Sawicki, has dedicated their efforts to deciphering JWST data. Both are integral members of the Canadian NIRISS Unbiased Cluster Survey (CANUCS) collaboration, a consortium committed to unraveling the intricate tapestry of galaxy evolution.
Source: Kyoto University