Astrophysicists are on the brink of seeing the universe right before the Big Bang, and it’s all thanks to NASA’s immensely powerful James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
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Astrophysicist Richard Ellis from the University College London spoke at New Scientists Live, where he explained the raw power of the Webb telescope and how close astrophysicists are from seeing the very first stars and galaxies forming – a feat that is currently breaking the standard model of the nature of the universe, including its evolution.
The preliminary results from Webb’s observations of the early universe reveal there are fewer and brighter galaxies than the Lambda cold dark matter model states possible. Webb is capable of looking further back in time than any other space telescope, and according to Ellis, Webb can see as far back as just 400 million years after the occurrence of the Big Bang.
Researchers attempting to explain this newly found data suggest one of two theories, or a combination of either. The first is that stars in the early universe were much more massive than what is observable today, resulting in more light, or early galaxies produce stars much faster than researchers expect. Whatever is the conclusive explanation will alter the standard cosmological model of the universe.
“In the last 12 months, we’ve made more progress probably than within the last 20 years, because it’s such a powerful telescope,” says Ellis.
“We’re not in a cosmological crisis. We’re not at the point of giving up the cold dark matter view or abandoning the big bang,” says Ellis.