Unfortunately, a micrometeoroid hit the telescope and possibly caused “significant uncorrectable” damage.
Leslie is in Europe, so I hope I do her proud covering anything space.
The James Webb Space Telescope discovered the oldest galaxy, called GLASS-z1, we’ve ever seen. It was formed 300 million years after the Big Bang.
This is the oldest galaxy we've ever seen.
It was spotted with early-release #JWST NIRCam data, and is sufficiently red-shifted to have formed only 300 million years after the Big Bang—which means it's 97.8% the age of the Universe. pic.twitter.com/9AKAVTPqix
— Paul Byrne (@ThePlanetaryGuy) July 20, 2022
Discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope, galaxy GN-z11 was the previous recorder holder, which dates back to 400 million years after the birth of the universehttps://t.co/H4Lna4uROw pic.twitter.com/rmesWSA2ve
— New Scientist (@newscientist) July 20, 2022
Both of the galaxies have a mass equivalent to one billion suns, which the team suggests is what they would expect from 500 million-year-old – which could indicate that the stars formed even earlier than scientists think.
They are also relatively small compared to our own Milky Way, which is 100,000 light-years in diameter; GLASS-z13 is approximately 1600 light years across while GLASS z-11 is 2300 light years wide.
“We found two very compelling candidates for extremely distant galaxies,” says Rohan Naidu, a graduate student in the university’s astrology department, told New Scientist.
“If these galaxies are at the distance we think they are, the universe is only a few hundred million years old at that point.”
Unfortunately, a micrometeoroid, which “are fragments of asteroids that can be smaller than a grain of sand, but they travel at high speeds,” hit the James Webb telescope. NASA fears the hit caused “significant uncorrectable” damage to it:
The strike in May, however, does not appear to be correctable and slightly reduces the breadth of accurate data the telescope can collect.
“The effect was small at the full telescope level because only a small portion of the telescope area was affected. After two subsequent realignment steps, the telescope was aligned to a minimum of 59 nm rms, which is about 5-10 nm rms above the previous best wavefront error rms values,” NASA said in a recent report.
NASA noted that the strike in May “exceeded prelaunch expectations of damage for a single micrometeoroid” but stressed that the telescope’s performance broadly has surpassed its expectations as well.
To mitigate the toll of the damage on the telescope’s performance after the strike in May, engineers realigned the telescope’s segments to adjust for the damage done.
The scientists worry about what will happen if more micrometeoroids hit the James Webb telescope.DONATE
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