The Farthest Point In The Universe With Complex Organic Molecules Detected

The Farthest Point In The Universe With Complex Organic Molecules Detected
Farthest Point In The Universe With Complex Organic Molecules Detected - Astronomers using the Webb telescope have discovered evidence of complex organic molecules in a galaxy more than 12 billion light-years away. This galaxy aligns almost perfectly with a second galaxy only 3 billion light-years from our perspective on Earth. The foreground galaxy is shown in blue and the background galaxy in red in this false-color Webb image. Organic molecules are highlighted in orange. Credits: J. Spilker / S. Doyle, NASA, ESA, CSA

Researchers have detected that there are complex organic molecules in the galaxy, 12 billion light years away from Earth. This distance took its place in the records as the farthest of those detected so far. This new work provides important insights into the complex chemical interactions that took place in the early galaxies of the early cosmos, thanks to the capabilities of the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope and the research team's extensive analysis.

Joaquin Vieira, professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and graduate student Kedar Phadke, teamed up with Texas A&M University scientists and an international group of scientists to distinguish infrared signals produced by some of the galaxy's larger and more massive stars. worked with. large dust grains and recently discovered hydrocarbon molecules.

The journal Nature published the study's findings.

This work began when Vieira, as a graduate student, searched for extremely distant galaxies that were obscured by dust and difficult to identify. About half of the stellar radiation produced in the universe is absorbed and re-emitted by dust grains, making infrared light from distant objects extremely dim or invisible to ground-based telescopes.

The gravitational lensing phenomenon, dubbed "nature's magnifying glass" by researchers, helped JWST in the latest study. "This magnification happens when the two galaxies are almost perfectly aligned from Earth's point of view and the light from the background galaxy is distorted and magnified by the foreground galaxy into a ring-like shape known as the Einstein ring," Vieira said.

The team targeted SPT30-35, previously identified as a dust-obscured galaxy magnified 0418 to 47 times by gravitational lensing. This object was found using the National Science Foundation's South Pole Telescope. SPT0418-47's distance of 12 billion light years from Earth corresponds to a time when the universe was 10% younger than it is now, or less than 1,5 billion years old.

Vieira added: “Before we reached the combined power of gravitational lensing and JWST, we could neither see nor spatially resolve the actual background galaxy through all the dust.”

According to spectroscopic data from JWST, the shrouded interstellar gas in SPT0418-47 is rich in heavy elements, suggesting that previous generations of stars have already lived and died. The particular substance the researchers found belongs to a class of molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. These molecules are found in combustion engine or wildfire exhaust on Earth. According to experts, these organic molecules made up of carbon chains are thought to be the basic building blocks for the first forms of life.

“We can see whole regions with these tiny dust grains that we could never see before the JWST,” Phadke said. “This research is telling us something right now and we are still learning.” “The new spectroscopic data allow us to observe the atomic and molecular composition of the galaxy, providing crucial information about the formation, life cycles and evolution of galaxies,” the authors write.

Vieira stated that we were not prepared for this. Being able to find these complex biological components at such a distance is revolutionary for future studies. We are still in the early stages of this work, learning how to use it and discovering its potential. We can't wait to see how this develops.

According to Vieira, it's really cool that the galaxies I found while researching and writing my thesis will eventually be seen by JWST. “I am grateful for the money and assistance provided by NSF, NASA, and American taxpayers for both SPT and JWST. Without these tools, this discovery would never have been made.


📩 06/06/2023 13:03