Exploring a rare population of red spiral galaxies from the early universe with the James Webb Space Telescope

Graphic summary. Credit: Waseda University, Japan.

Spiral galaxies represent one of the most spectacular features in our universe. Among them, spiral galaxies in the distant universe contain important information about their origin and evolution. However, we have a limited understanding of these galaxies as they are too distant to be studied in detail.

“While these galaxies have already been detected amongst previous observations using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, their limited spatial resolution and/or sensitivities did not allow us to study their detailed shapes and properties,” said Yoshinobu Fudamoto, Senior Researcher at Waseda University. explains. in Japan researching the evolution of galaxies.

Now, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has taken things to the next level. In SMACS J0723.3-7327, the first image of the galaxy cluster, JWST was able to capture infrared images of the population of red spiral galaxies with unprecedented resolution, revealing their morphology in great detail!

In this context, in a recent article Astrophysical Journal LettersJunior Researcher Yoshinobu Fudamoto of Waseda University, Japan, Prof. Akio K. Inoue and Dr. A research team made up of Yuma Sugahara has uncovered startling insights into these red spiral galaxies.

Among the few red spiral galaxies detected, the researchers focused on the most extreme red galaxies, RS13 and RS14. Using spectral energy distribution (SED) analysis, the researchers measured the energy distribution over the wide wavelength range for these galaxies. SED analysis revealed that these red spiral galaxies belonged to the early universe period known as “cosmic noon” (8-10 billion years ago) following the Big Bang and “cosmic dawn”.

Exploring a rare population of red spiral galaxies from the early universe with the James Webb Space Telescope

In a remarkable improvement over the previous IRAC image (top), JWST’s unprecedented spatial resolution and high IR sensitivity reveal morphological details of red spiral galaxies (bottom) RS13 and RS14. This facilitates a detailed analysis that reveals hitherto unknown features of the early universe red spiral galaxies. Credits: Yoshinobu Fudamoto of Waseda University, Japan.

Remarkably, these are among the most distant spiral galaxies known to date.

Rare, red spiral galaxies make up only 2% of galaxies in the local universe. This discovery of red spiral galaxies in the early universe from the JWST observation, which covers only a negligible part of space, suggests that such spiral galaxies existed in large numbers in the early universe.

The researchers also discovered that one of the red spiral galaxies, RS14, is a “passive” (non-star-forming) spiral galaxy, contrary to the intuitive expectation that galaxies in the early universe would form actively stars. This detection of a passive spiral galaxy in JWST’s limited field of view is particularly surprising, as it suggests that such passive spiral galaxies may have existed in large numbers in the early universe.

Overall, the findings of this study significantly increase our knowledge of red spiral galaxies and the universe as a whole. “Our work has shown for the first time that passive spiral galaxies can be found in abundance in the early universe. While this paper is a pilot study of spiral galaxies in the early universe, validating and extending this work will greatly impact our understanding of the formation. The evolution of galactic morphologies,” concludes Fudamoto.

More information:
Yoshinobu Fudamoto et al., Red Spiral Galaxies at Cosmic Noon Revealed in First JWST Image, Astrophysical Journal Letters (2022). DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac982b

Provided by Waseda University

Quotation: Discovering a rare population of red spiral galaxies from the early universe with the James Webb Space Telescope (2022, December 13) retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2022-12-rare-red-spiral-galaxy on December 13, 2022 -population .html

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