Webb and ALMA Peer Into the Core of the Most Distant Galaxy Protocluster

Webb and ALMA Peer Into the Core of the Most Distant Galaxy Protocluster

Unraveling the mysteries of our cosmic roots, leading astronomers utilize advanced telescopes to examine a distant galaxy protocluster's core.


Understanding the birth and death cycles of individual stars within galaxies and how new stars arise from the remnants of their predecessors is vital. Galaxy clusters, massive universal structures comprising over 100 galaxies, offer insights into these mysteries. Their growth is influenced by their environment. Known as the “environment effect,” this phenomenon has been crucial in studying galaxy evolution. Yet, when this effect started remains an enigma.

Galaxy protoclusters, containing about 10 galaxies, offer a look into the universe shortly after its inception. Thanks to the science of light travel, observing a galaxy 13 billion light-years away provides a snapshot from 13 billion years ago. However, capturing such distant light requires state-of-the-art telescopes.

Spotlight on A2744z7p9OD

Takuya Hashimoto of University of Tsukuba, Japan, and Javier Álvarez-Márquez of the Spanish Center for Astrobiology helmed a team using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to focus on the protocluster A2744z7p9OD’s core region. This protocluster, already known for its immense distance, had yet to have its core thoroughly examined.

The team detected ionized oxygen-ion light from four galaxies in this protocluster. Yuma Sugahara, leading the JWST data analysis, expressed his astonishment upon confirming these galaxies as true members of this distant protocluster.


ALMA’s archival data revealed another discovery: dust emissions from three of these four galaxies. This marks the earliest detection of such emissions in a protocluster, signifying a thriving galaxy. Professor Luis Colina emphasized the significance, highlighting the implications of environmental effects appearing just 700 million years post-Big Bang.

Simulation Insights

Galaxy formation simulations conducted by the team provided further understanding. The simulations showed the convergence and evolution of these galaxies into one over a short universal timeframe. Yurina Nakazato, who reviewed the simulation data, emphasized their detailed findings and the desire for future exploration.

Javier Álvarez-Márquez voiced plans for enhanced ALMA observations and expressed the intent to leverage the potent JWST and ALMA capabilities for more protocluster studies.


With the combined power of advanced telescopes and dedicated research, astronomers continue to shed light on our cosmic origins, taking steps closer to understanding our universal roots.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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