Remember Those Impossibly Massive Galaxies? They May Be Even More Massive

The first image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, featuring the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was designed to probe the mysteries of the Universe, not the least of which is what the first galaxies looked like. These galaxies formed during the Epoch of Reionization (aka. “Cosmic Dawn”), which lasted from about 100 to 500 million years after the Big Bang. By observing these galaxies and comparing them to ones that see closer to our own today, astronomers hope to test the laws of physics on the grandest of scales and what role (if any) Dark Matter and Dark Energy have played.

Unfortunately, early into its campaign, the JWST detected galaxies from this period so massive that they were inconsistent with our understanding of how the Universe formed. The most widely-accepted theory for how this all fits together is known as the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (LCDM) cosmological model, which best describes the structure and evolution of the Universe. According to the latest results from the Cosmic Dawn Center, these galaxies may be even more massive than previously thought, further challenging our understanding of the cosmos.

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