Tuesday, January 2, 2024

JWST Reveals a Surprisingly High Fraction of Galaxies Being Spiral-like


In this letter, we used James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) images from the Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science Survey to visually identify spiral galaxies with redshift 0.5≤z≤4 and stellar mass ≥1010M⊙. Out of 873 galaxies, 216 were found to have a spiral structure.

These fractions are higher than the fractions observed with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). We even detect possible spiral-like features at redshifts z>3.

This fraction is surprisingly high and implies that the formation of spiral arms, as well as disks, was earlier in the universe. 


Of these galaxies, 216 were classified as spirals. The authors were careful to note that some may be merging galaxies that were misclassified, but even then 108 of the galaxies were unanimously classified as spirals by evaluators. When the team arranged them by redshift, they found that while the fraction of spirals decreased as you went further into the past, the fraction of spirals at redshifts above z = 3 was much higher than expected. When the team calibrated observations, they found about a fifth of galaxies at z = 3 are spiral galaxies. These very early galaxies would have had to become spirals less than two billion years after the Big Bang, meaning that there would have been little time for mergers and collisions to be the cause.

If spiral galaxies were more common in the early universe than expected, it could indicate that certain conditions or mechanisms favored the formation of spiral structures at that time. This is quite at odds with the current understanding of what structures were favored during these early epochs of the Universe's development.

Previously on this blog:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thermal vacuum testing for the Europa Clipper

NASA (via YouTube ): We'll be back soon. The spacecraft is currently undergoing vacuum testing. I was a huge fan of the livestream for b...