Universe’s Oldest Star Clusters Revealed | Sciences-Environment

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A team of Canadian astronomers, including experts from the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Toronto, used the James Webb Telescope to identify the largest globular clusters distant stars ever discovered – dense clusters of millions of stars that may be relics containing the first and oldest stars in the universe. The Astrophysical Journal Letters has published an early study of Webb’s first Deep Field image, which shows some of the earliest galaxies in the cosmos.

“JWST was built to find the first stars and galaxies and to help us understand the origins of complexity in the universe, such as chemical elements and the building blocks of life,” says Lamiya Mowla, postdoctoral researcher at Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics and co-lead author of the study, which was carried out by the Canadian team NIRISS Unbiased Cluster Survey (CANUCS). “This discovery in Webb’s first deep field already provides detailed insight into the early phase of star formation, confirming the incredible power of JWST.”

The “Sparkler Galaxy” nine billion light-years distant has been brought into focus by astronomers in the finely detailed photograph from Webb’s First Deep Field. The compact objects that circle this galaxy and look like tiny yellow-red specks have been dubbed “flickers” by scientists. The research team suggested that these sparks could represent either young, actively developing star clusters, which would have formed three billion years after the Big Bang, at the height of star creation, or clusters older globulars. Globular clusters are ancient groups of stars from the beginning of a galaxy, and they provide information about the early stages of its development and expansion.

The researchers found that five of these compact objects are among the oldest known globular clusters after conducting an initial survey of 12 of these compact objects. “Watching the first images from JWST and discovering ancient globular clusters around distant galaxies was an incredible moment – a moment that was not possible with previous Hubble Space Telescope imagery,” says researcher Kartheik G. Iyer. postdoctoral fellow at the Dunlap Institute. for astronomy and astrophysics and co-lead author of the study.

“Because we were able to observe the sparks over a range of wavelengths, we were able to model them and better understand their physical properties – such as their age and the number of stars they contain. We hope that the knowledge that the Globular clusters can be observed from such great distances with JWST will stimulate science and the search for similar objects.” The Milky Way galaxy is known to contain around 150 globular clusters, but exactly how and when these huge collections of stars were formed is unclear. Although globular clusters can be quite old, astronomers have great difficulty determining their age. It has never been done before, and only JWST makes it possible, to date initial stars in distant galaxies using extremely distant globular clusters.

“These newly identified clusters formed near the first time it was even possible to form stars,” says Mowla. “Because the Sparkler galaxy is much further away than our own Milky Way, it is easier to determine the age of its globular clusters. We observe the Sparkler as it was nine billion years ago, when the he universe was only four and one -half a billion years old, looking at something that happened a long time ago. Think of it like guessing a person’s age based on their appearance – it’s easy to tell the difference between a five-year-old and a 10-year-old, but hard to tell the difference between a 50- and 55-year-old man.” The Hubble Space Telescope has not yet been able to detect the surrounding compact objects in the Sparkler galaxy. That changed with JWST’s improved sensitivity and resolution, which allowed Webb’s first Deep Field image to see the faint spots around the galaxy for the first time. Galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, which is in the foreground, distorts what lies behind like a large magnifying glass, causing a gravitational lens, which magnifies the Sparkler galaxy by a factor of 100. Additionally, Sparkler is visible in three different views thanks to the gravitational lens, which allows scientists to examine the galaxy in more detail.

“Our study of the Sparkler highlights the tremendous power of combining JWST’s unique capabilities with the natural magnification offered by gravitational lensing,” said Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Center CANUCS team leader Chris Willott. Herzberg of the National Research Council. “The team is excited for more discoveries to come when JWST turns its attention to CANUCS galaxy clusters next month.” (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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