The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) continues to astound scientists worldwide with groundbreaking revelations about the workings of the universe. In a recent study published in Nature, a team of researchers from Edinburgh University employed the remarkable capabilities of the space observatory to investigate GS-9209, one of the most remote galaxies ever identified, located a staggering 25 billion light-years away from Earth.
The findings unveiled GS-9209 as a "massive quiescent galaxy" observed by the JWST during its early billion-year phase, enabling astronomers to meticulously trace its history. Remarkably, GS-9209 exhibited star formation rates equivalent to that of our own Milky Way a mere 800 million years after the Big Bang, despite being only one-tenth the size of our galaxy.
The Edinburgh team, utilizing the JWST, effectively confirmed that GS-9209 ceased generating new stars, hosting a colossal mass of 40 billion suns—roughly comparable to the estimated mass of the Milky Way. The central supermassive black hole within GS-9209 emerged as the primary instigator behind the disruption of star formation, dwarfing expectations by being five times larger than anticipated for the number of stars within its host galaxy.
Astonished by the unexpected discovery, scientists described the black hole as "very massive," further reinforcing the theoretical notion of star formation disruption. Supermassive black holes possess the ability to influence the creation of new celestial bodies by emitting vast quantities of high-energy radiation during their accretion process. This radiation can superheat gas, expelling it from galaxies and depriving stellar nurseries within galactic nebulae of the necessary fuel for breeding new stars.
The extraordinary size of the GS-9209 black hole suggests that it must have been tremendously active in the past, elucidated the UK researchers. The energy released throughout the accretion process evidently disrupted the entire galaxy, preventing gas from collapsing and forming new stars.
Thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists can now make detailed observations that were previously inconceivable. The joint NASA-ESA observatory has already revealed the astonishing fact that galaxies grew "larger and earlier" than anticipated within the first billion years following the Big Bang.
The remarkable discovery of the colossal black hole within GS-9209 and its role in inhibiting star formation highlights the transformative power of the James Webb Space Telescope, enabling us to unlock the secrets of the universe and expand our understanding of its wondrous phenomena.