Astronomers puzzled by the discovery of a supernova by the James Webb Telescope because the telescope wasn’t designed to search for dying stars
The galaxy in which the supernova was located is about 3 billion light-years from Earth, and its bright beam was captured by the newly operational Webb Telescope. This is the first time the telescope has observed the explosion of a dying star.
A supernova is a violent explosion that a star experiences as it nears the end of its evolution and is the “last revelry” when it runs out of fuel. Running out of fuel causes a drop in pressure, during which the stellar material expands to a size of at least five times the mass of the sun—about 333,000 times that of Earth—before it explodes violently, releasing huge amounts of debris and particles.
This stellar explosion occurred in the galaxy SDSS.J141930.11+5251593. Images from the Webb telescope showed one object dimming over a 5-day time span, a line that led to speculation about the existence of a supernova. Mike Engelzer of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) said the Webb telescope was not designed to detect new transients, so the discovery is particularly exciting.
The potential supernova was imaged by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on the Webb Telescope, which covers the spectrum from the edge of the visible (0.6 microns) to near-infrared (5 microns) and can be used to detect light from the earliest stars and galaxies of light. NIRCam is equipped with a coronagraph, an instrument that allows astronomers to image centrally bright objects — such as star systems — with very little light around them, or stellar explosion events such as supernovae.
Engelzel pointed out that the Webb telescope happened to be detecting the SDSS.J141930.11+5251593 galaxy at the time, and it was very lucky to photograph this supernova. The dying star is a small bright spot in the image, not present in the 2011 Hubble Space Telescope image of the galaxy. Engelzel and his team used software that can spot differences in pictures that cause bright spots.
The research team used software to analyze the James Webb Telescope image and a 2011 Hubble image of the same area, identifying small, bright spots of light.
After just one week of operation, the Webb telescope has justified its enormous expense. On July 12, the Webb Telescope team released the first official images of deep space; a week later, scientists announced that it had discovered a 13.5-billion-year-old galaxy, the oldest galaxy in the universe currently visible to humans. The galaxy, known as GLASS-z13 (GN-z13), formed just 300 million years after the Big Bang, which occurred 13.8 billion years ago. The previous record holder, GN-z11, discovered by Hubble in 2015, dates back 400 million years after the universe was born. The Webb Telescope captured what the GN-z13 galaxy looks like using the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam). While probing the region of the GN-z13 galaxy, the Webb telescope also discovered the GN-z11 galaxy.
Just a week after it was in operation, the Webb telescope proved worth its enormous expense. On July 12, the Webb Telescope team released the first official deep-sky image; a week later, scientists announced that it had discovered a 13.5-billion-year-old galaxy, the oldest galaxy in the universe currently visible to the naked eye.
Scientists at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have noticed that although these galaxies are very old, they are all very small, according to New Scientist. The GN-z13 galaxy is about 1,600 light-years in diameter, while the GLASS z-11 galaxy is 2,300 light-years in diameter. By comparison, our galaxy is about 100,000 light-years across. In their paper published on the preprint site arXiv, the researchers point out that both galaxies are 1 billion times the mass of the Sun, much smaller than the Milky Way (which is about 1.5 trillion times the mass of the Sun) because of their mass. Both were formed shortly after the Big Bang.
The team also noted that these galaxies grow by engulfing the stars in their region. “These two galaxies put new constraints on the evolution of galaxies at the dawn of the universe,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “The results suggest that the discovery of GNz11 is not just lucky, but that there may be a group with extremely high Ultraviolet light sources for star formation efficiency.”
How to interpret the Webb Telescope image of Stephen’s Quintet?
Among the first images released by the James Webb Telescope, the most striking is that of Stephan’s Quintet. This group of galaxies was first discovered in the constellation Pegasus in 1877 by astronomer Édouard Stephan. This gorgeous collection of galaxies can be said to be the initial form of the so-called “dense galaxy group”, in which the four galaxies are very closely related, collide with each other and gravitational effects are very significant, and it is likely to merge into a huge galaxy. Of all the compact groups of galaxies, Stephen’s Quintet is the most studied, and also provides important clues to how gas, stars and a bunch of dark matter grew and evolved on such a massive scale.
James Webb Telescope’s images of Stephen’s Quintet contain a wealth of new information
In the Webb image, the 4 galaxies on the right are tightly and powerfully connected by gravity, where billions of stars are torn apart into giant streamers; when the gas is disturbed, it is triggered Massive star formation event. Interestingly, it is these interactions that slow the collapse of Stephen’s quintet into a single giant galaxy, a transition that currently appears to be in balance with individual galaxies. As with any good galaxy image, the Webb telescope’s Stephen Quintet image can decipher a myriad of information, but on a grander scale, there are seven bright spots that help us make sense of this wonderful universe Scenes.
(1) Different: This galaxy (NGC 7320) is only 40 million light-years away from Earth and is an “interruptor” in the foreground, the other 4 galaxies are physically interrelated and are about 290 million away from our solar system light years. Delicate fold textures are visible in Webb Telescope images of this closer galaxy, regions of star formation and heated dust that suggest the galaxy is going through its own tumultuous chapter of evolution.
(2) The stars in the Milky Way are like shimmering decorations that forcefully squeeze into the foreground of the picture. Their pointed appearance is caused by light diffraction near the edges of Webb’s 18 hexagonal mirrors. The hexagonal mirror is one of the unique features of this telescope.
(3) The brightness of this bright light from the center of the galaxy NGC 7319 is equivalent to 40 million times that of the sun, which is the result of the flow of matter to a supermassive black hole 24 million times larger than the sun: a galaxy “gluttony” event, in the universe It also happens in many other galaxies in . The Webb telescope’s spectroscopic instruments were also able to detect the light from this flow of material and reveal signs of hot, cold gas, and a coating of microscopic silica dust.
(4) In addition to the majestic Stephen’s Quintet, images of hundreds of other galaxies from more distant space-time “accidentally” fell into the Webb telescope’s lens, filling this tiny cosmic wallpaper, proving that The extraordinary sensitivity of the telescope: galaxies containing hundreds of billions of other stars and worlds are there.
(5) Glowing tails containing billions of stars are stripped away from galaxies by tidal gravity, not unlike tidal forces on Earth (except that the culprit here is a smaller, in this galaxies not shown in this photo). This all happened about 100 million years before the light in this photo was sent to us. Perhaps these stars will form new dwarf galaxies on their own, or they may just be scattered into intergalactic space.
(6) As galaxies collide with each other at nearly 900 kilometers per second, intergalactic gas also collides within this complex red and gold arc region. The gas heated to millions of degrees by the impact is not directly visible here; instead, the Webb telescope captures the messy glowing details of the post-collision. Across tens of thousands of light-years of space, the collision triggered the formation of new stars and hydrocarbon-rich dust.
(7) The main image is a composite of separate images taken with different infrared “colors”, showing the unique capabilities of the Webb telescope. Some are near-infrared images (top right), others are mid-infrared images (bottom right), which capture the intense activity of glowing dust caused by shock waves. Together, the two images create a visual symphony of the evolution of this entangled galaxy.