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Astronomers discover oldest ‘dead’ galaxy in distant universe

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Astronomers discover oldest ‘dead’ galaxy in distant universe

Astronomers using the James Webb Space Telescope have made a groundbreaking discovery – the oldest “dead” galaxy ever observed. This galaxy existed when the universe was only about 700 million years old, making it one of the deepest views of the distant universe to date. Despite its age, the galaxy suddenly stopped star formation almost as quickly as it began over 13 billion years ago, leaving researchers puzzled about the cause.

Published in the journal Nature, the report on this discovery suggests that studying this galaxy could provide new insights into the early universe and the factors influencing star formation within galaxies. Lead author Tobias Looser explained that the early universe was a time of intense star formation, with galaxies needing a rich supply of gas to form new stars.

The research team was surprised to find a dead galaxy that essentially lived fast and died young shortly after the Big Bang. This raises questions about what causes galaxies to stop forming stars. Possible reasons include environmental factors depriving galaxies of the gas needed for star birth, or black holes and star interactions ejecting gas.

The newly discovered galaxy, named JADES-GS-z7-01-QU, experienced a brief burst of star formation before abruptly stopping. The low mass of this galaxy, similar to a dwarf galaxy near the Milky Way, adds a unique aspect to this discovery.

Given its distance billions of light years away from Earth, astronomers are excited about the potential implications of this discovery. Further observations are needed to understand if galaxies in the early universe could potentially “die” and be resurrected to start forming stars again. This groundbreaking finding opens the door to more exploration of the early universe and the mysteries it holds.

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