January 13, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

JWST Upsetting Cosmology

The James Webb Space Telescope continues turning up
contradictions to consensus views on cosmic evolution


The 1st galaxies may have formed much earlier than we thought, James Webb Space Telescope reveals (Space.com, 12 Jan 2023). Always demand that reporters specify who thought wrongly, else they tend to attribute wrong thinking to everyone.

Using early observations from the telescope, astronomers looked for galaxies at “very high redshifts,” which would indicate that these galaxies formed earlier in the universe. The team detected 87 galaxies that may have been the first to appear in the universe, about 200 million to 400 million years after the Big Bang, according to a statement from the University of Missouri.

“Finding such a large number of galaxies in the early parts of the universe suggests that we might need to revise our previous understanding of galaxy formation,” Haojing Yan, an astronomer at the University of Missouri and lead author of the study, said in the statement. “Our finding gives us the first indication that a lot of galaxies could have been formed in the universe much earlier than previously thought.”

Webb telescope turns up baffling views of the early universe (Live Science, 11 Jan 2023). Observations are only baffling to those who expected different observations.” New results from the James Webb Space Telescope challenge prevailing models of the early universe,” reports Adam Mann. More early maturity has been found (search on “early maturity” in the archives). Galaxies were not supposed to be so well developed so far back in time.

Just over a year after its historic launch, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is challenging astronomers’ expectations of the early universe and showing that massive galaxies likely formed much earlier than predicted. 

JWST finds that ancient galaxies contain fewer stars than we expected (New Scientist, 10 Jan 2023). “A group of ancient galaxies examined by the James Webb Space Telescope contain an order of magnitude fewer stars than expected and they are strangely dim,” reports Alex Wilkins. Why is this unexpected?

Now, Casey Papovich at the Texas A&M University and his colleagues have used JWST’s mid-infrared instrument, MIRI, to see the longer wavelength light these galaxies emit.

Initially, these bright bodies appeared much dimmer and “bluer” than they were predicted to be at these wavelengths. “I was actually kind of shocked at first, because a couple of these galaxies we expected to be pretty bright in this longer wavelength data,” says Papovich.

Fears of an overhaul in cosmology were partly alleviated when different filters were applied to faint pixellated images. “While the results are still within the bounds of what many models of early galaxies allow, astronomers will now need to run the data through those models to work out how fast the galaxies actually formed, says Cappellari.”

Searching for the earliest galaxies in the universe (University of Missouri, 11 Jan 2023). More unexpected “early maturity” is mentioned in this press release from Mizzou. Once again, complexity and maturity is found “earlier than thought.” So is this a falsification of accepted theory, or a chance for job security? Confirmation has a downside; it might have ended their work. Now they can rewrite textbooks for a living.

“Finding such a large number of galaxies in the early parts of the universe suggests that we might need to revise our previous understanding of galaxy formation,” Yan said. “Our finding gives us the first indication that a lot of galaxies could have been formed in the universe much earlier than previously thought.

Graphic by David Coppedge

New study reveals wide diversity of galaxies in the early universe (University of Rochester via Phys.org, 9 Jan 2023). Evolution ran so fast, it produced complexity ahead of schedule.

“There have been previous studies emphasizing that we see a lot of galaxies with disks at high redshift, which is true, but in this study we also see a lot of galaxies with other structures, such as spheroids and irregular shapes, as we do at lower redshifts,” said Kartaltepe, lead author on the paper and CEERS co-investigator. “This means that even at these high redshifts, galaxies were already fairly evolved and had a wide range of structures.”

Blue Straggler Stars Are Weird (Paul Sutter at Universe Today, 10 Jan 2023). Cosmology popularizer Paul Sutter can’t figure out why large blue stars exist where they shouldn’t be. Blue stars, in theory, burn up quickly. What are they doing in old, mature clusters?

As their names suggests, blue straggler stars are stars that appear in a cluster that are bluer and brighter than they should be. Specifically, they still lie along the main sequence, which is a specific relationship between brightness and temperature that all hydrogen-fusing stars obey. But the problem with blue stragglers is that they should definitely not be sitting on the main sequence. They should have died long ago. In fact, in the same cluster astronomers will see many other stars of similar mass that have left the main sequence and are fusing heavier elements.

That didn’t stop Paul from speculating about what might have happened: perhaps mergers and collisions gave these stars a “second lease on life.” Trouble is, in science, might does not make right. Theories must bow down to evidence. Until then, a hypothesis may serve as a heuristic path to testing another theory, but until confirmed, is indistinguishable from speculation.

Blue stragglers are what they are. They do not pay attention to what certain astronomers say they “should be.” That’s what is weird. Same for galaxies that appear mature “earlier than thought.” Who are peewee humans to impose their will on the stars? Scientists need to practice humility, and learn to say, “We were wrong. We know less than we thought we knew.”

Contradictions of new observations with accepted theories is a long-running theme in cosmology, as reported many times here on this site for over 20 years. Search on “earlier than thought” and “early maturity” for examples. It is also demonstrated powerfully with many quotes from surprised astronomers in Spike Psarris’s excellent documentary series What You Aren’t Being Told About Astronomy, especially volumes II (stars and galaxies) and III (the universe). These are available at CreationAstronomy.com.

The heavens declare the glory of God. James Webb Telescope’s First Deep Field image, July 2022.

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Categories: Astronomy, Cosmology, Physics

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