‘Schrodinger’s Galaxy Candidate’ Is JWST’s Latest Deep Space Puzzle to Solve

Astronomers armed with early knowledge obtained by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) are looking galaxies that existed just some hundred million years after the Big Bang. Rohan Naidu, an astrophysicist primarily based on the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA), and his colleagues have been significantly good at uncovering these cosmic relics.

Just just a few days after the James Webb Space Telescope’s first pictures have been beamed throughout the planet, Naidu and his collaborators dropped a paper that reverberated throughout the online, choosing up an actual head of steam on social media. Using knowledge from the ‘scope, the researchers introduced that they’d found a candidate for essentially the most distant galaxy ever seen, dubbed GLASS-z13. Then, not even every week later, many various teams had discovered candidate galaxies ever farther away.

It’s not stunning we have now one more candidate.

In a pre-print paper, launched on Aug. 5 and but to bear peer evaluate, Naidu and colleagues have detailed one other distant galaxy candidate, from considered one of JWST’s early launch science applications, generally known as CEERS-1749. It’s a particularly vibrant galaxy that, if confirmed, would have existed simply 220 million years after the Big Bang — and it might additionally rewrite our understanding of the cosmos.

But there’s an enormous catch. 

CEERS-1749 could possibly be probably the most distant galaxies we have ever seen or it could possibly be lurking a lot nearer to dwelling. Essentially, the info appears to point two attainable locations for the galaxy to be — and we cannot know which one is appropriate with out observing it much more. That’s earned it the title of “Schrodinger’s galaxy candidate” within the paper submitted to pre-print repository, arXiv, on Aug. 4. 

So, how can a galaxy like Schrodinger (the title we’re working with as a result of it is far more enjoyable than CEERS-1749) appear to be in two completely different locations? It’s all about redshift.

To decide how far-off a galaxy lies, astronomers examine wavelengths of sunshine. Specifically, they’re fascinated about a phenomenon of sunshine generally known as “redshift.” In a nutshell, gentle waves leaving distant galaxies get stretched over time, shifting the waves down the electromagnetic spectrum and making them extra, nicely… crimson. So, ultraviolet gentle leaving a galaxy like Schrodinger will not attain Earth as ultraviolet gentle. Instead, it will likely be redshifted down into the infrared, which is nice for us as a result of that is simply the form of gentle JWST searches for. 

And JWST has numerous filters, distinct wavelengths of infrared. In inspecting a galaxy like Schrodinger, you may flick by means of the wavelengths such as you may flick by means of a photograph album. On the primary few pages — much less crimson wavelengths — you will not see a factor. Then, as you flip by means of and the wavelengths turn into extra crimson, the ghost of a galaxy seems. In essentially the most redshifted wavelengths, behind the album, the galaxy is a clearly outlined object.


Redshift is denoted by the parameter z and better z values imply a extra distant object. One of the confirmed most distant galaxies found to this point, GN-z11, has a worth of 11.09. In the case of Schrodinger, the analysis group state it might have a z worth of round 17. That would imply this gentle is from a time some 13.6 billion years in the past. 

It would additionally imply we’d must rethink our fashions of how galaxies advanced within the earliest days of the universe — galaxies from that way back shouldn’t be this vibrant, at the least based on the mannequin we presently use to clarify our cosmos.

But perhaps we needn’t break physics simply but. 

The group counsel there may be good environmental proof that Schrodinger’s z worth is perhaps round 5, which might imply its gentle is about 12.5 billion years previous. Other galaxies within the area round Schrodinger all lie at about this distance. It may even be that Schrodinger is a satellite tv for pc galaxy of considered one of its extra large neighbours. 

But wait! There’s extra: Another group of researchers additionally studied this very same galaxy from the early launch knowledge, publishing their very own outcomes to arXiv on the identical day. Jorge Zavala, an astrophysicist at ALMA Japan, and his group added to the JWST knowledge with knowledge from an Earth-based telescopes within the French Alps and Hawaii.  

They got here to the conclusion that Schrodinger is perhaps an imposter masquerading as a high-redshift galaxy when it is truly a a lot nearer, dusty galaxy present process fast star formation.

The take dwelling message? Work on this perplexing galaxy candidate is incomplete. JWST has been capable of examine the depth of the sunshine emitted by Schrodinger however we want extra measurements. In explicit, spectroscopy will enable astrophysicists to scrutinize its redshift extra precisely. The solely barrier now could be time — getting sufficient time on telescopes world wide to check Schrodinger and clear up the puzzle.

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