The first color image released by the new James Webb Space Telescope went around the world. This extraordinarily profound vision of the cosmos was shown to President Joe Biden to inaugurate the instrument but among the many galaxies there was a surprise hidden.
Lately, thanks to James Webb’s depth, researchers have now pinpointed what they believe to be the most distant globular clusters ever identified.
Our Milky Way, in which our Sun lives, has more than 100 of these compact clusters scattered around itself, but when and how they formed is still something of an enigma.
‘We are discovering that these globular clusters are very massive,’ explained Dr Lamiya Mowla of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics in Toronto. “We also find them very old.”
“They may have formed in a flash in what we call ‘cosmic noon’, at the height of star formation about 10 billion years ago. But their color isn’t right. For something to be relatively young, it has to be bluer, and what we’re finding is that they are much redder than we expected, which means they must be older, even from those very early days, “he said.
The team argues that the stars in these globular sparks probably formed only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. It is also possible, astronomers say, that the sparks contain some of the very first stars ever formed in the Universe.