Astronomers have made an astonishing discovery using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), uncovering small red dots that are believed to be some of the earliest galaxies in the universe. This breakthrough not only captivates the imagination, but also holds the potential to reveal the mysteries surrounding galaxy formation and the enigmatic black holes that embarked on their cosmic journey.
Professor Mitch Begelman, an astrophysics expert from the University of Colorado in Boulder, explains that the remarkable discovery made by JWST highlights the presence of very compact and bright structures in the infrared range of the Universe. These structures likely contain enormous black holes, which were previously thought to be impossible.
In their findings, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, researchers suggest that new theories are needed to explain the existence of huge black holes within galaxies. Traditional theories of galaxy formation proposed gradual assembly of stars and galaxies over billions of years, with black holes appearing only after the formation of the first stars, acting as regulators to maintain equilibrium in the galaxy.
However, JWST observations have revealed that the earliest galaxies in the universe were brighter than expected, and many of them exhibited both stars and ultra-massive black holes that give rise to Quasars. Quasars, the brightest objects in the universe, are formed through the accretion process where gas is pulled towards massive black holes in the cores of galaxies, generating immense luminosity that outshines their host galaxies.
These observations have prompted researchers to reconsider existing theories of galaxy formation, indicating that black holes were formed simultaneously with the first stars, and subsequently developed alongside the rest of the galaxy.
Confirmation and further exploration of this new theory, as well as understanding such processes, will necessitate computer simulations. However, current simulations are relatively basic, and a higher level of resolution is required, demanding substantial computing power and funding.
Nonetheless, the astronomical community can take additional steps to revise and validate the new theory. Experts emphasize that improved observations will be the foundation for the next phase of investigation, with the JWST’s full potential to study the spectra of the most distant galaxies set to be unleashed in the forthcoming years.