Supermassive black holes are messy feeders, and when they’re gorging on too much material, they can hurl high-energy jets into the surrounding Universe. Astronomers have found one of the most powerful eruptions ever seen, emanating from a black hole 3.8 billion light-years away. The powerful jets are blowing out cavities in intergalactic space and triggering the formation of a huge chain of star clusters.Continue reading “Powerful Jets From a Black Hole are Spawning Star Clusters”
The gigantic galaxies we see in the Universe today, including our own Milky Way galaxy, started out far smaller. Mergers throughout the Universe’s 13.7 billion years gradually assembled today’s massive galaxies. But they may have begun as mere star clusters.
In an effort to understand the earliest galaxies, the JWST has examined their ancient light for clues as to how they became so massive.Continue reading “JWST Sees a Milky Way-Like Galaxy Coming Together in the Early Universe”
For a long time, our understanding of the Universe’s first galaxies leaned heavily on theory. The light from that age only reached us after travelling for billions of years, and on the way, it was obscured and stretched into the infrared. Clues about the first galaxies are hidden in that messy light. Now that we have the James Webb Space Telescope and its powerful infrared capabilities, we’ve seen further into the past—and with more clarity—than ever before.
The JWST has imaged some of the very first galaxies, leading to a flood of new insights and challenging questions. But it can’t see individual stars.
How can astronomers detect their impact on the Universe’s first galaxies?Continue reading “Even if We Can’t See the First Stars, We Could Detect Their Impact on the First Galaxies”
The poetic-minded among us like to point out how Nature is a dance. If they’re right, then galaxies sometimes form unwieldy pairs. With the Hubble Space Telescope, we can spot some of these galactic pairs as they approach one another.Continue reading “Hubble Sees a Bridge of Stars Connecting Two Galaxies”
Galaxies experience a long strange trip through the cosmic web as they grow and evolve. It turns out that the neighborhoods they spend time in on the journey change their evolution, and that affects their star formation activity and alters their gas content.Continue reading “How Does the Cosmic Web Drive Galaxy Evolution?”
We can’t see them directly, but we know they’re there. Supermassive black holes (SMBHs) likely dwell at the center of every large galaxy. Their overwhelming gravity draws material toward them, where it collects in an accretion disk, waiting its turn to cross the event horizon into oblivion.
But in one galaxy, the SMBH has choked on its meal and spit it out, sending material away at high speeds and clearing out the entire neighbourhood.Continue reading “A Black Hole Has Cleared Out Its Neighbourhood”
Astronomers working with the JWST found a dwarf galaxy they weren’t looking for. It’s about 98 million years away, has no neighbours, and was in the background of an image of other galaxies. This isolated galaxy shows a lack of star-formation activity, which is very unusual for an isolated dwarf.
Most isolated dwarf galaxies form stars, according to a wealth of observations. What’s different about this one?Continue reading “The JWST Discovers a Galaxy That Shouldn’t Exist”
Within almost every galaxy there is a supermassive black hole. This by itself implies some kind of formative connection between the two. We have also observed how gas and dust within a galaxy can drive the growth of galactic black holes, and how the dynamics of black holes can both drive star formation or hinder it depending on how active a black hole is. But one area where astronomers still have little information is how galaxies and their black holes interacted in the early Universe. Did black holes drive the formation of galaxies, or did early galaxies fuel the growth of black holes? A recent study suggests the two evolved hand in hand.Continue reading “Even Early Galaxies Grew Hand-in-Hand With Their Supermassive Black Holes”
NGC 4753 is a prime example of what happens after a galactic merger. It looks like a twisted mess, with dust lanes looping around the massive galactic nucleus. Astronomers long wondered what happened to this galaxy, and with a sharp new image created by the Gemini South telescope, they can finally explain its tortured past.Continue reading “The Aftermath of a Recent Galactic Merger”
If you’re fascinated by Nature, these images of spiral galaxies won’t help you escape your fascination.
These images show incredible detail in 19 spirals, imaged face-on by the JWST. The galactic arms with their multitudes of stars are lit up in infrared light, as are the dense galactic cores, where supermassive black holes reside.Continue reading “Feast Your Eyes on 19 Face-On Spiral Galaxies Seen by Webb”