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Organic particles orbit 12 billion light years away. He watched them

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The James Webb Space Telescope has made a startling find in a galaxy 12 billion light years away. It turned out that even at such a distance, the instrument is able to detect a ring of organic particles.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has detected complex organic molecules 12 billion light years away galaxy. As reported by an international team of scientists in the scientific journal Nature, the telescope allowed to distinguish the infrared signals emitted by these substances from those that come from much larger and more massive galactic dust particles.

“This project began when I was in graduate school, studying hard-to-detect, very distant galaxies that are obscured by dust,” said one of the scientists, Prof. Joaquin Vieira from the US University of Illinois at Urbana and Champaign. ‘Dust grains absorb and re-emit about half of the stellar radiation produced in the universe, making infrared from distant objects extremely faint or undetectable with ground-based telescopes,’ he explained.

The researchers also used a natural, powerful, image-enlarging observational tool, gravitational lensing. – Such a magnification occurs when two galaxies are almost perfectly aligned from Earth’s point of view. The light from the farther galaxy is then bent and magnified by the foreground galaxy and takes on the shape of a ring, known as an Einstein ring, Vieira explained.

Galaxy SPT0418-47. Organic particles are marked in orangeJ. Spilker/S. Doyle, NASA, ESA, CSA

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Magnified dozens of times

The galaxy in question is SPT0418-47 discovered by the South Pole Telescope (SPT), heavily obscured by dust and magnified 30-35 times by gravitational lensing. It already existed when the universe was only about 1.5 billion years old.

“Before accessing the combined power of gravitational lensing and JWST, we could neither see nor spatially describe this galaxy because of this dust,” said the researcher.

Data from the James Webb Telescope indicate, among other things, that this galaxy is enriched with heavier elements, which means that successive generations of stars have already formed and died in it.

However, researchers paid particular attention to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – complex organic substances. On Earth, they can be found, for example, in exhaust fumes or smoke from other sources. At the same time, it is believed that they formed the basis for the emergence of life on our planet.

“We didn’t expect it,” Vieira said. ‘The detection of these complex organic molecules from such a great distance is groundbreaking for future observations. This work is only the first step. We are just learning how to use it and discover its potential. We’re very excited to see how this can develop.”

James Webb telescopePAP/Reuters/Adam Ziemienowicz

Main photo source: J. Spilker/S. Doyle, NASA, ESA, CSA

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