About the Object

Area of study in GOODS-S field: JADES (NIRCam image)

One of the largest programmes in the first year of science with the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope was the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey, or JADES, which devoted about 32 days of telescope time to uncovering and characterising faint, distant galaxies. 

The infrared image shown here in the bottom left was taken as part of the JADES programme and shows a portion of an area of the sky known as GOODS-South. This region has been well studied by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories. More than 45 000 galaxies are visible here. 

The pullout in the upper right shows a crop of this region, which was the focus area of Webb study for an international team of astronomers, who have observed the chemical signature of carbon-rich dust grains at redshift ~7. This is roughly equivalent to one billion years after the birth of the Universe. Similar observational signatures have been observed in the much more recent Universe, attributed to complex, carbon-based molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). It is not thought likely, however, that PAHs would have developed within the first billion years of cosmic time. Therefore, this observation suggests the exciting possibility that Webb may have observed a different species of carbon-based molecule: possibly minuscule graphite- or diamond-like grains produced by the earliest stars or supernovae. This observation suggests exciting avenues of investigation into both the production of cosmic dust and the earliest stellar populations in our Universe, and was made possible by Webb’s unprecedented sensitivity. 

In this image, blue, green, and red were assigned to Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) data at 0.9, 1.15, and 1.5 microns; 2.0, 2.77, and 3.55 microns; and 3.56, 4.1, and 4.44 microns (F090W, F115W, and F150W; F200W, F277W, and F335M; and F356W, F410M, and F444W), respectively.

[Image description: The lower left of the image shows a cutout of a deep galaxy field, featuring thousands of galaxies of various shapes and sizes. A crop of this field is provided in the upper right to provide a closer view of the particular area of study for this result.]


ESA/Webb, NASA, ESA, CSA, B. Robertson (UC Santa Cruz), B. Johnson (Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian), S. Tacchella (University of Cambridge, M. Rieke (Univ. of Arizona), D. Eisenstein (Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian), A. Pagan (STScI)

About the Image

Id: weic2317a-h1dd3n
Type: Collage
Release date: 19 July 2023, 17:00
Size: 2999 x 1687 px

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