Little Red Dots in Webb Photos Turned Out to Be Quasars

A n EIGER JWST image of the luminous quasar J1148+5251, an extremely rare active SMBH of 10 billion solar masses (blue box). Two “baby quasars” (red boxes) are seen in the same dataset. © NASA, ESA, CSA, J. Matthee (ISTA), R. Mackenzie (ETH Zurich), D. Kashino (National Observatory of Japan), S. Lilly (ETH Zurich)

In its first year of operation, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) made some profound discoveries. These included providing the sharpest views of iconic cosmic structures (like the Pillars of Creation), transmission spectra from exoplanet atmospheres, and breathtaking views of Jupiter, its largest moons, Saturn’s rings, its largest moon Titan, and Enceladus’ plumes. But Webb also made an unexpected find during its first year of observation that may prove to be a breakthrough: a series of little red dots in a tiny region of the night sky.

These little red dots were observed as part of Webb’s Emission-line galaxies and Intergalactic Gas in the Epoch of Reionization (EIGER) and the First Reionization Epoch Spectroscopically Complete Observations (FRESCO) surveys. According to a new analysis by an international team of astrophysicists, these dots are galactic nuclei containing the precursors of Supermassive Black Holes (SMBHs) that existed during the early Universe. The existence of these black holes shortly after the Big Bang could change our understanding of how the first SMBHs in our Universe formed.

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They’re Here! Check out the First Images from the James Webb Space Telescope!

A mosaic of images released today from Webb. Image credit: NASA/ESA/STSCI

This is it! Today, people worldwide were treated to the first images acquired by James Webb! After years of delays, we are finally seeing the sharpest images of the Universe taken by the most powerful telescope ever deployed. The world was given a sneak peek yesterday when President Biden, VP Kamala Harris, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, and other NASA officials released the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the Universe to date. But at 10:30 Eastern (07:30 Pacific), all the remaining first images were released!

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