“James Webb” found the oldest “dead” galaxy ever observed

Astronomers are happy The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has made a groundbreaking discovery: a “dead” galaxy, devoid of star formation, dating back a staggering 13 billion years. This observation, reported in the journal Nature, expands the boundaries of our understanding of galaxy evolution and challenges existing models. DiscussJames Webb has found the oldest 'dead' galaxy ever observed© Ferra

An international team led by the University of Cambridge discovered this ancient galaxy when the Universe was only 700 million years old. Nicknamed a “dead” galaxy due to its lack of ongoing star formation, the object defies expectations for such an early cosmic age. As a rule, galaxies in the young Universe are known for their active star formation activity.

© JADES Collaboration

The mystery deepens as the reason for such a rapid “closure” remains unclear. Did a supermassive black hole eject essential gas from the galaxy, depriving it of star-forming material? Or was the gas simply used up too quickly, leaving no fuel for further star formation?

“The early Universe appears to have operated at a faster pace,” explains study co-author Francesco D’Eugenio. “This includes an abrupt transition from star formation to quiescence in galaxies, which may require revisions to models based solely on the modern Universe.”

Although this is not the first “dead” galaxy discovered in the early Universe, it is the oldest – it was observed just 700 million years after the Big Bang. Interestingly, despite its current dormant state, the possibility remains that this ancient galaxy has resumed its star formation.