James Webb Space Telescope has been surprising the world with its jaw-dropping images since July last year. This expansive vista of the sky between the constellations of Pisces and Andromeda contains more than 20,000 galaxies. The perspective has provided astronomers with more than just an eye-catching sight; it has also assisted them in understanding what precipitated the Epoch of Reionization, the time when the opaque cosmos gave way to the transparent one.
The early universe was shrouded in a dense gas that constrained the quantity of light that could pass through it. When the universe was between 400 million and one billion years old, during the Epoch of Reionization, the gaseous universe started to clear up until it was completely transparent to light.
Thus, the Epoch of Reionization was essential to our understanding of what exactly occurred. The mysterious period is the focus of the Square Kilometre Array, which will soon be the biggest radio telescope in the world.
Creating Composite Images Using Multiple Exposure
About 13.7 billion years have passed since the Big Bang, and Webb can look back to those earliest ages to determine precisely what changed. A pinkish light source with six diffraction spikes (Webb’s imaging artifacts) may be seen in the center of the image above. The quasar J0100+2802, an incredibly bright galactic core that illuminates the gas between it and Webb, is the source of the light. The composite image was created using multiple exposures obtained on August 22, 2022, by Webb’s NIRCam instrument and seen through various filters. You may view the full, 127-megabyte image here, but our website can only handle a smaller version.
A team of scientists utilized the light from the quasar to investigate over 100 galaxies from the first billion years of the universe, concentrating on 59 that are located between the quasar and the telescope. We expected to find perhaps a few dozen galaxies from the Era of Reionization, but we were able to locate 117 with ease, according to the lead author of one of the publications and astronomer Daichi Kashino of Nagoya University. “Webb has far exceeded our expectations.”
James Webb Telescope FINALLY Found The Edge Of The Observable Universe!
Comparing the Data with Earlier Observations
The scientists compared the Webb data to earlier observations of the quasar made by the Keck Observatory, the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory, and the Magellan Telescope of the Las Campanas Observatory. Three different papers detailing their findings were published today in the Astrophysical Journal. A publication explained the spectroscopy of the stars and gas in the galaxies, another described the evidence for reionization driven by the young galaxies, and a third concentrated on the quasar at the center of the entire inquiry.
The discovery by the researchers that the galaxies’ surroundings were transparent bubbles raises the possibility that the galaxies themselves were involved in the reionization of the universe.” As we look back into the teeth of reionization, we see a very distinct change,” study co-author and team leader Simon Lilly, an astronomer at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, said in a statement released by the Space Telescope Science Institute. “Billions of stars in galaxies are ionizing the gas surrounding them, effectively turning it into transparent gas.”
The quasar’s light was able to pinpoint precisely where it was being absorbed by gas (indicating a region had not yet reionized) or traveling through the more transparent material. According to the same press release, the transparent areas around galaxies were typically 2 million light-years across.