Webb’s Gravitational Lensing of the Early Universe

Image Credit: NASAESACSADan Coe (STScI), Rebecca Larson (UT), Yu-Yang Hsiao (JHU); Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI);

The gravitational lensing of galaxy cluster MACS0647 – in which the giant foreground cluster is distorted and the lensing light emanates from distant background galaxies along the line of sight – is clearly visible here in the image Recent multicolor infrared images by James Webb. Space Telescope (JWST). In particular, the background source MACS0647-JD is displayed three times by the cluster. When first discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope, MACS0647-JD was observed as an amorphous blob. However, with Webb, this single source turns out to be a pair or small group of galaxies. The colors of the MACS0647-JD objects also vary, suggesting potential differences in the age or dust content of these galaxies. These new images provide rare examples of galaxies just about 100 million years after the Big Bang.