It's true!  JWST breaks Hubble's all-time distance record!

It’s true! JWST breaks Hubble’s all-time distance record!

Finally, JWST broke the record for the most distant galaxy.

The viewing area of ​​the JADES survey, as well as the four most distant galaxies verified in this field of view. The three galaxies at z=13.20, 12.63 and 11.58 are all further away than the previous record holder, GN-z11, which was identified by Hubble.

(Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, M. Zamani (ESA/Webb), Leah Hustak (STScI); Scientific credits: Brant Robertson (UC Santa Cruz), S. Tacchella (Cambridge), E. Curtis-Lake (UOH) , S. Carniani (Scuola Normale Superiore), JADES Collaboration)

At 33 billion light-years away, JADES-GS-z13-0 is the most distant object ever seen.


Light from any galaxy that was emitted after the start of the hot Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago would have reached us today as long as it is around 46.1 billion d light years to the present time. But light from the oldest and most distant galaxies will be blocked by intervening matter and redshifted by the expanding Universe. Both pose serious detection challenges, which is why Hubble couldn’t see beyond a redshift of 11 even under the most fortuitous of circumstances. JWST has already broken this record.

(Credit: F. Summers, A. Pagan, L. Hustak, G. Bacon, Z. Levay and L. Frattere (STScI))

Its light was emitted only 320 million years after the Big Bang.


Schematic diagram of the history of the Universe, highlighting reionization. Before the formation of stars or galaxies, the Universe was full of light-blocking neutral atoms that formed when the Universe was around 380,000 years old. Most of the Universe does not reionize until 550 million years later, with some regions reaching full reionization sooner and others later. The first big waves of reionization begin about 200 million years ago, while a few lucky stars may form only 50 to 100 million years after the Big Bang. With the right tools, like the JWST, we are beginning to reveal galaxies farther away than any other tool has made possible before.

(Credit: SG Djorgovski et al., Caltech; Caltech Digital Media Center)

We look back 13.5 billion years to when the Universe was 2.3% of its current age.

The probabilities of finding galaxies of a certain redshift/luminosity combination in a particular volume of space, color-coded for probability. Early JWST galaxy candidates (at z > 10), some of which have now been verified, do not pose as much of a problem for what should exist in our Universe as compared to what we find to be large, massive, bright galaxies at more modest redshifts (10 > z > 6).

(Credit: M. Boylan-Kolchin, MNRAS submitted, 2022)

This far exceeds anything Hubble could have done.

James Webb Hubble

It is only because this distant galaxy, GN-z11, is located in a region where the intergalactic medium is mainly reionized, that Hubble can reveal it to us at the present time. To see further, we would need a better observatory, optimized for this kind of detection, than Hubble. Although the galaxy appears very red, this is purely due to the redshift effect of the expanding Universe. Inherently, the galaxy itself is very blue. Other candidate high redshift galaxies have not yet been confirmed by spectroscopy.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Oesch and B. Robertson (University of California, Santa Cruz), and A. Feild (STScI))

Hubble is hot, small and limited in wavelength range.

Over the course of 50 days, with a total of over 2 million seconds of total observing time (equivalent to 23 full days), the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) was constructed from part of the previous Hubble Ultra Deep Field image. Combining light from ultraviolet to visible light and up to Hubble’s near-infrared limit, the XDF represented humanity’s deepest insight into the cosmos: a record that stood until he is beaten by JWST. In the red box, where no galaxy is seen by Hubble, the JWST JADES survey revealed the most distant galaxy to date: JADES-GS-z13-0.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (University of Leiden) and the HUDF09 team; annotations and stitching by E. Siegel)

JWST overcomes all these constraints, while including a superior spectrograph.

james webb vs hubble

The now fully operational JWST has seven times the light-gathering power of Hubble, but will be able to see much further into the infrared part of the spectrum, revealing these galaxies existing even earlier than Hubble could ever see, thanks to its longer wavelength capabilities and much lower operating temperatures. Populations of galaxies seen before the reionization epoch are expected to be found in abundance, including the bursting of old Hubble cosmic distance records.

(Credit: NASA/JWST Science Team; composite by E. Siegel)

By breaking light down into its individual wavelengths, JWST sees both absorbed and transmitted light.

The spectra obtained by JADES and the JWST NIRpec instrument for the four most distant galaxies found so far by the JADES survey. The Lyman Breakup feature, robustly identified here for each of the four galaxies, determines the distance and redshift beyond reasonable doubt, making JADES-GS-z13-0 the new cosmic record holder . (For the moment.)

(Credit: JADES Collaboration, E. Curtis-Lake et al., preprint, 2022)

Using both NIRCam and NIRSpec instruments, he began conducting the JADES survey.

This image shows the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) study region. This area includes and contains the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field and reveals record new distant galaxies that Hubble could not see.

(Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, M. Zamani (ESA/Webb); Scientific credits: Brant Robertson (UC Santa Cruz), S. Tacchella (Cambridge), E. Curtis-Lake (UOH), S. Carniani (School Superior Normal), JADES Collaboration)

JADES – the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey – will eventually combine hundreds of hours of observations.

Spectroscopic identification of the Lyman Breakup signature, present and easily visible in the four ultra-distant galaxies identified by JWST, confirms their redshift and distance. This makes the first three galaxies the most distant galaxies confirmed by spectroscopy. As time passes and sightings continue, JWST should continue to expand this record.

(Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, M. Zamani (ESA/Webb), Leah Hustak (STScI); Scientific credits: Brant Robertson (UC Santa Cruz), S. Tacchella (Cambridge), E. Curtis-Lake (UOH) , S. Carniani (Scuola Normale Superiore), JADES Collaboration)

Whenever faint red galaxies exhibit a critical wavelength “cutoff”, their distance/redshift can be measured.

A combination of spectroscopy (top), probability comparisons with detailed simulations (middle), and photometry (bottom) were all used to determine the distance and properties of the outermost galaxy JADES-GS-z13 -0. Further analysis rules out other line possibilities, including carbon, oxygen and a Balmer break, ensuring that this galaxy was indeed beaming light at us 13.5 billion years ago.

(Credit: JADES Collaboration, E. Curtis-Lake et al., preprint, 2022)

With a redshift of 13.2 – meaning the observed light is 1320% longer than the emitted wavelength – JADES-GS-z13-0 beats the old Hubble record.

The most distant galaxy identified in JWST’s first deep-field image didn’t break Hubble’s cosmic record, but showed the power of spectroscopy to reveal an indisputable distance and redshift for this object. Now, these techniques are being used to identify even deeper objects with superior, longer-period JWST observations.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI)

Three similar galaxies, almost as far apart in the same field strengthen the observational case for the robustness of this galaxy.

The four most distant galaxies identified in JADES so far include three that exceed the “most distant galaxy” threshold previously set by Hubble. With no more than a quarter of the total JADES data taken so far, this record will likely fall again, perhaps multiple times, over the coming months and years.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, M. Zamani (ESA/Webb), Leah Hustak (STScI); Scientific credit: Brant Robertson (UC Santa Cruz), S. Tacchella (Cambridge), E. Curtis-Lake (UOH) , S. Carniani (Scuola Normale Superiore), JADES Collaboration)

JADES is specifically designed to take advantage of the unique capabilities of the JWST instrument.

This is a simulated JWST/NIRCam mosaic that was generated using JAGUAR and the NIRCam Guitarra image simulator, at the expected depth of the JADES Deep program. In early 2022, scientists noted that in its first year of science operations, JWST could break many records set by Hubble over its 32-year (and counting) lifespan, including records for the farthest galaxy and the farthest star. The first has just fallen.

(Credit: C. Williams et al., ApJ, 2018)

With more observing time, fainter and more distant galaxies will appear, even breaking this new record.

james webb hubble

A portion of the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field that was imaged for a total of 23 days, unlike the simulated view James Webb expected in infrared. With large-area mosaics such as COSMOS-Web and PANORAMIC, the latter taking advantage of pure parallel observation, to come, we should not only break the cosmic record for the most distant galaxy, but should learn what first luminous objects in the Universe looked like.

(Credit: NASA/ESA and Hubble/HUDF team; JADES collaboration for the NIRCam simulation)

Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in pictures, visuals and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.

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