James Webb Space Telescope spots ‘Cosmic Gems’ in the extremely early universe (video)

Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), astronomers have discovered star clusters in the “Cosmic Gems” arc that existed just 460 million years after the Big Bang. This marks the first discovery of star clusters in an infant galaxy, seen as it was when the 13.8 billion-year-old universe was less than 500 million years old.

The Cosmic Gems arc, initially discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope and officially designated SPT0615-JD1, is a gravitationally lensed infant galaxy around 13.3 billion light-years from Earth. That means light from this galaxy, seen by the JWST, has been traveling to Earth for around 97% of the universe’s lifetime.

The international team of astronomers behind this discovery found five young massive star clusters in the Cosmic Gems arc. These clusters existed during a period when young galaxies were undergoing intense bursts of star formation and emitting huge amounts of ultraviolet light. This radiation may be responsible for triggering one of two major phases in the evolution of the universe: the epoch of cosmic reionization.

The Galaxy cluster SPT-CL J0615−5746 as seen by the JWST as an arc of cosmic Gems (Image credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, L. Bradley (STScI), A. Adamo (Stockholm University) and the Cosmic Spring collaboration)

Studying these five-star clusters could teach astronomers a great deal about this early period in the cosmos.

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