Astronomers used advanced tools to more accurately calculate the age of the "Maisie Galaxy" discovered by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in June 2022. Although the star system is not as old as originally estimated, it is one of the oldest systems thought to have formed 390 million years after the Big Bang and is about 13.4 billion years old. This makes it only 70 million years younger than the oldest known system, JADES-GS-z13-0.
According to Engadget, a team led by University of Texas astronomer Steven Finkelstein discovered the system last summer. He named the galaxy "Maisie's Galaxy" because he made the discovery on his daughter's birthday. The team initially calculated that it formed only 290 million years after the Big Bang, but after analyzing the galaxy with more advanced equipment, they found that it was about 100 million years older than that.
"The exciting thing about Maisie's Galaxy is that it is one of the first distant galaxies identified by JWST, and the first among these galaxies to be spectroscopically confirmed," Finkelstein said.
The spectroscopic confirmation came thanks to the telescope's Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRSpec) tool, run by the Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science Survey (CEERS).
Scientists use complex methods to determine the age of a galaxy. According to sources, what they do is calculate when light leaves an object, and they do this by measuring the redshift of the galaxy. This is the amount by which its color shifts because of its movement away from Earth. So, because we live in an expanding universe, the higher the redshift of an object, the older it is.
Ultimately, advanced tools from the James Webb Space Telescope revealed that Maisie's Galaxy formed within 390 million years of the Big Bang.
Scientists announced that this galaxy is one of the four "earliest confirmed" galaxies ever observed. On the other hand, about 10 other galaxies that may be even older than Maisie's Galaxy are being investigated.
However, with the James Webb Space Telescope, which took nearly 20 years to build and cost more than 10 billion dollars, scientists continue to explore planets, galaxies, and other objects in deep space.
JWST was launched on December 25, 2021 from the European Spaceport near Kourou, French Guiana. The main goal of the Webb Telescope, the most advanced telescope ever, is to travel 13.5 billion years back in time to reach a point just 100-200 million years after the Big Bang. Thus, it is expected to provide extensive information about our universe.