Astronomers Discover Oldest “Dead” Galaxy Ever with James Webb Space Telescope

Astronomers have made a groundbreaking discovery with the James Webb Space Telescope: the identification of the oldest "dead" galaxy ever observed, dating back more than 13 billion years. This ancient galaxy, detected when the universe was just 700 million years old, challenges our current knowledge of galactic evolution and offers new perspectives on the mechanisms that control star formation and cessation.


Astronomers have made a groundbreaking discovery with the James Webb Space Telescope: the identification of the oldest "dead" galaxy ever observed, dating back more than 13 billion years. This ancient galaxy, detected when the universe was just 700 million years old, challenges our current knowledge of galactic evolution and offers new perspectives on the mechanisms that control star formation and cessation.

Led by the University of Cambridge, an international team of astronomers utilized the advanced capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope to look back in time and study a galaxy that abruptly stopped forming stars more than 13 billion years ago. This finding, published in the journal Nature, sheds light on a crucial period in the universe's history and raises intriguing questions about the forces that drive galactic evolution.

The galaxy under scrutiny seems to have gone through a rapid phase of star formation followed by an equally sudden halt. This occurrence, taking place so early in the universe's development, challenges existing models of galactic evolution and hints at the possibility that the factors influencing star formation might have been more dynamic than previously believed.

Tobias Looser, the lead author of the paper from the Kavli Institute for Cosmology, points out that the early universe witnessed a frenzied era of star formation, fueled by a plentiful gas supply. However, this galaxy's abrupt shift to a "quenched" state—where star formation ceases—raises intriguing queries about the mechanisms at play.

Astronomers theorize that various elements, such as the presence of supermassive black holes and feedback from star formation, could have contributed to the cessation of star formation in this ancient galaxy. However, the exact cause remains elusive, emphasizing the necessity for further investigation to unravel the complexities of galactic evolution.

One of the most striking aspects of this discovery is the galaxy's age—just 700 million years after the Big Bang, making it the oldest "dead" galaxy ever documented. This observation, made achievable by the James Webb Space Telescope's unmatched sensitivity, offers astronomers a distinctive peek into the early phases of galactic evolution.

Despite its ancient age, this galaxy has relatively low mass, akin to the Small Magellanic Cloud—a dwarf galaxy near the Milky Way. This revelation challenges prior assumptions about the connection between galactic mass and the cessation of star formation, suggesting that smaller, fainter galaxies could have a significant role in shaping the early universe.

Although the galaxy seems inactive at the time of observation, astronomers speculate that it might have undergone a renaissance in star formation over the past 13 billion years. This potentiality underscores the dynamic nature of galactic evolution and emphasizes the necessity for ongoing observation and analysis.

Astronomers are excited to hunt for more galaxies akin to this one, which could offer valuable insights into the processes governing star formation and cessation in the early universe. By unraveling the enigmas of galactic evolution, we can deepen our comprehension of the cosmos and our position within it.

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Fateh Muhammad

Hey, I'm Fateh Muhammad, a Lahore local with a passion for arts and politics. My journey led me through the halls of the National College of Arts, where I delved into the intricacies of both disciplines. Now calling Lahore home, I'm here to share my insights and perspectives on the dynamic intersection of art and politics. Let's embark on this enlightening journey together! Connect With Me .