Shaped like warped vinyls and sporting delicate spiral arms, the Milky Way doppelgangers were found by JWST more than 10 billion years into the universe's past — during a period when violent galactic mergers were thought to have made an abundance of such fragile galaxies impossible.
Yet the disk galaxies are 10 times more common in the early universe than astronomers previously thought, new research reveals. The strange discovery joins others made by the JWST that point to a deepening mystery around how large galaxies, and with them the potential for life, first bloomed in our universe. The researchers published their findings Sept. 22 in The Astrophysical Journal.
"For over 30 years it was thought that these disk galaxies were rare in the early universe due to the common violent encounters that galaxies undergo," lead study author Leonardo Ferreira, an astronomer at the University of Victoria in Canada, said in a statement. "The fact that JWST finds so many is another sign of the power of this instrument and that the structures of galaxies form earlier in the universe, much earlier in fact, than anyone had anticipated."
Most theories of galaxy formation begin 1 billion to 2 billion years into the universe's life, by which time the earliest clusters of stars were thought to have morphed into dwarf galaxies. These dwarf galaxies subsequently began cannibalizing each other, sparking a free-for-all of violent galactic mergers that (after 10 billion years) resulted in large galaxies like our own.
The Milky Way is a disk galaxy. With its spiral arms and squashed sombrero shape, it is one of the most common types of galaxy in today's universe. However, during the universe's early years — when the cosmos was more cramped and dwarf galaxies swarmed — astronomers long-assumed that galaxies like our own would be quickly twisted out of shape.
Yet by using the JWST to peer from 9 billion up to 13 billion years into the past, the astronomers discovered that, out of the 3,956 galaxies they had spotted, 1,672 were disk galaxies like our own. Many of these galaxies existed when the universe was just a few billion years old.
"Using the Hubble Space Telescope we thought that disk galaxies were almost non-existent until the universe was about 6 billion years old," study co-author Christopher Conselice, a professor of extragalactic astronomy at the University of Manchester, said in the statement. "These new JWST results push the time these Milky Way–like galaxies form to almost the beginning of the universe."
"This implies that most stars exist and form within these galaxies which is changing our complete understanding of how galaxy formation occurs," he added. "Based on our results astronomers must rethink our understanding of the formation of the first galaxies and how galaxy evolution occurred over the past 10 billion years."
Our own existence in a disk galaxy means that astronomers usually assume they must have good conditions for sparking life. If that’s the case, it’s possible that life could have started earlier in the universe than first thought.
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Ben Turner is a U.K. based staff writer at Live Science. He covers physics and astronomy, among other topics like tech and climate change. He graduated from University College London with a degree in particle physics before training as a journalist. When he's not writing, Ben enjoys reading literature, playing the guitar and embarrassing himself with chess.
This evidence seems to offer proof that the universe is twice as old as we think it is.Reply
Or we watching our selves through the vastness of universe's Periscopic view!zarryzims said:This evidence seems to offer proof that the universe is twice as old as we think it is.
Or...the universe is just infinite and eternal . Why is this so hard for humans to accept.zarryzims said:This evidence seems to offer proof that the universe is twice as old as we think it is.
What does he mean “Shouldn’t Exist” does he have authority over the universe? It’s there for a reason!Reply
The universe is a forever expanding sphere in all directions started from the creation point. The closer one's line of sight is aligned to this creation point, the more one will see the early universe. Should one look across the creation point, one will see matter from the other side of the creation point moving towards the observer. Thus one will observe matter older than the creation point. Present day graphics depict the universe as a cone starting from this creation point. This to the expense of an expanding sphere in all directions.admin said:Thousands of disk galaxies like our own Milky Way were spotted in the early universe, where they shouldn't exist.
James Webb telescope spots thousands of Milky Way lookalikes that 'shouldn't exist' swarming across the early universe : Read more
"Shouldn't exist" as in we might be living in a simulation, and JWST has just seen the edges of it?Reply
You've seriously misinterpreted a couple theories within cosmology. You're comment comes off in a way to where it seems you believe the light goes around and then comes back towards you, hence giving the impression you're observing something older/beyond the "creation point" then you say expanding in a sphere in all directions, which explains why you think it loops back around. This hypothesis has undergone many years of testing and has been fully falsified. Not one single mirror galaxy, star, or even one mirror photon has ever been detected.Thychomyces said:The universe is a forever expanding sphere in all directions started from the creation point. The closer one's line of sight is aligned to this creation point, the more one will see the early universe. Should one look across the creation point, one will see matter from the other side of the creation point moving towards the observer. Thus one will observe matter older than the creation point. Present day graphics depict the universe as a cone starting from this creation point. This to the expense of an expanding sphere in all directions.
Also, the cone graphic you're talking about, go check it again and actually look at the x y z axis on it. It's a cone so it can demonstrate the expansion over time distance and age (they're the axis)
All it is is a way to show the data visually to people in what was meant to be understandable for a layman, but you went wayyyy off the deep in understanding incorrectly what was being represented to you.
EVERYONE IS MISUNDERSTANDING THIS SHOULDNT EXIST LINE 🤦 It's shouldn't exist as in for example, is a dwarf galaxy takes 10 yrs to form, a full on disk galaxy takes 100yrs to form, but only 3yrs has passed yet you have a full disk galaxy, it shouldn't exist, not enough time has passed. THIS IS WHAT IS MEANT. WHAT THE DATA IS TELLING US, AS HE EVEN QUOTES SOMEONE SAYING AS SUCH, IS, OUR THEORIES OF COSMOLOGICAL EVOLUTION ARE WRONG BECAUSE THE DATA IS PROVING IT WRONG. There's galaxies there already that should've taken alottttt more time to form than has passed, but there they are.Reply
(Note, my numbers were just simple examples to make it easy to grasp)
When I consider infinity and eternity i try to keep in mind that not long ago the earth was flat and the sun circled the earth.Reply
Infinite and eternal describe our universe. We are existing in a time constrained and space defined (dimension, universe?) thus, our difficulty in reasoning outside the box as new information arrives. I see it like this.
We exist. We and our universe exist. This is a creation.
There cannot be a creation without a creator.
Infinity and eternity make sense on a most basic level. What's one step beyond the edge? What's one minute before the beginning?
Energy cannot be created or destroyed only transformed.
We will get the whole story later, as our perspective expands.
For now, for science, the earth is still flat. For now.
This was predicted by scientists who think dark matter is foolishness and model using MOND.Reply
Theories with Predictions that are found to be true in science have higher weight over ones that continuously fail (dark matter theories).
WHAT WILL JWST SEE?