December dropped a bombshell on us, folks. And let me tell you, this was no ordinary piece of news. And yes, I’m the one who wrote this post, and then I asked ChatGPT to give it that gonzo journalism flair we all know and love.
In the past few months, scientists have been combing through data from the James Webb Space Telescope and discovered a whole horde of ancient galaxies, the oldest we’ve ever seen. Just let that sink in: the big bang is thought to have gone down 13.4 billion years ago, and these galaxies formed when the universe was a mere 500 million years old. Four of them even formed when the universe was a youthful 350 million years old.
This is just too early, there are too many galaxies, and they’re too massive for this stage in the game. These observations go against everything we thought we knew about the mainstream cosmological model of the past few decades. It’s hard to say at this point what exactly is off with the model if these observations hold up; it could be the role of dark matter, it could be our understanding of how large structures form in the universe, or it could be our knowledge of how stars work.
This story has been in the works for the past few months, but there’s been one big catch: so far, we’ve only been able to calculate the age of galaxies by looking at the color of their light (photometrically), but this method is only trustworthy when we examine individual features in their light spectrum (spectroscopically).
But that time has finally arrived, or at least it’s almost here. NASA announced the first spectroscopic test for the four youngest galaxies, and it confirms our initial calculations.
The next few months and years are going to be a wild ride for cosmology, folks. Buckle up.
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