NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has lately given mankind many first-ever glimpses into the furthest reaches of the cosmos.
Furthermore, as was to be expected, some of these amazing new findings have raised more concerns than they have addressed.
For instance, scientists formerly believed that the first galaxies in the universe were tiny, irregular, and slightly chaotic structures. However, JWST photography has revealed that those galaxies are astoundingly large in addition to being balanced and well-formed – a finding that contradicts and will likely alter long-held assumptions about the origin of our universe.
The models “simply don’t foresee this,” according to astronomer Garth Illingworth of the University of California, Santa Cruz, for WaPo. How do you do this at such a young age in the universe? How do you rapidly create so many stars?
WaPo reports that earlier images of the universe collected by the Hubble Space Telescope before it was removed from service seemed to support the widely held opinion that early galaxies were chaotic, disorderly regions. The JWST, however, appears to show that such discoveries were a mirage based on Hubble’s limited capabilities.
Dan Coe of the Space Telescope Science Institute told WaPo, “We thought the early universe was this chaotic place where there’s all these clumps of star formation, and things are all a-jumble,” later adding that, prior to the JWST’s launch into orbit, Hubble’s imagery was “missing all the colder stars and the older stars.” We were primarily observing the attractive young people.
These results astonished the scientific community, yet there is no cause for alarm at all. Astronomy and other sciences have a long history of substantial technology advancements that have sparked bursts of scientific discovery. Even while breakthroughs may be decades away, we now appear to be at one of those turning moments, and it’s possible that today’s discoveries may lay the groundwork for future breakthroughs.
And in fact, results like these demonstrate that the JWST is doing exactly what researchers had hoped it would: it is revealing fresh, interesting data about our mind-bogglingly huge cosmos while simultaneously resolving old mysteries and presenting new ones.