The 10 greatest JWST discoveries, so far

The JWST collaborates with other telescopes to capture stunning images, such as the “Phantom Galaxy” M74. After a month-long journey, the JWST reached its current location over 900,000 miles away from Earth. Since its launch, the JWST has made significant discoveries that have revolutionized our understanding of the universe. Here are the top 10 discoveries made by the JWST so far, listed in order of distance.

1. Big, bright galaxies at cosmic dawn: The JWST has observed young galaxies that date back to within 500 million years of the Big Bang. These galaxies are much brighter than expected, suggesting they may be more efficient at creating stars or more massive than previously thought.

2. Early supermassive black holes: Surprisingly, the JWST has discovered supermassive black holes in the early universe, even though they haven’t had much time to grow. These black holes weigh about 1 billion solar masses and provide insights into their evolution.

3. Dust in the universe’s youth: The JWST has found dust in a galaxy just 1 billion years after the Big Bang. This dust has a unique chemical fingerprint, suggesting it may be a mix of graphite- or diamond-like grains created in the earliest stars, opening a new window into dust production and galaxy formation.

4. Tightening cosmic tension: The JWST has confirmed a higher value for the Hubble constant, which measures the expansion rate of the universe. This discrepancy between different measurement methods suggests that scientists may be missing something in their understanding of the universe.

5. Studying star formation in detail: The JWST’s ability to see infrared radiation allows it to penetrate dust and observe star formation in unprecedented detail. It has revealed thousands of new stars buried deep within the Eagle Nebula and provided remarkable images of the Rho Ophiuchi complex.

6. A dusty supernova remnant: The JWST has captured stunning images of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, revealing wispy tendrils of gas and warm dust. Studying supernova remnants like Cas A can provide insights into the creation of cosmic dust.

7. A JuMBO surprise: The JWST has discovered planet-sized objects with binary companions in the Orion Nebula. These “JuMBOs” challenge current theories of star and planet formation and may require a revision of existing models.

8. A molecular exoplanet revolution: Spectroscopy with the JWST has allowed astronomers to analyze the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres. It has detected molecules like methane and carbon dioxide in exoplanet K2-18 b, suggesting the possibility of a water ocean on its surface.

9. Rings around the Ring Nebula: The JWST has observed the famous Ring Nebula in unprecedented detail, revealing intricate structures within the ring and a series of concentric arcs beyond its outer edge. These arcs are believed to have formed from interactions with a low-mass companion.

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