James Webb’s Puzzling ‘Schrödinger Galaxy Candidate’ Baffles Scientists!
JWST‘s first glimpse of the z>10 Universe has yielded a surprising abundance of luminous galaxy candidates. Here we present the most extreme of these systems: CEERS-1749. Based on 0.6−5μm photometry, this strikingly luminous (≈26 mag) galaxy appears to lie at z≈17. This would make it an MUV≈−22, M⋆≈5×109M⊙ system that formed a mere ∼220 Myrs after the Big Bang.
The implied number density of this galaxy and its analogues challenges virtually every early galaxy evolution model that assumes ΛCDM cosmology. However, there is strong environmental evidence supporting a secondary redshift solution of z≈5: all three of the galaxy’s nearest neighbors at <2.5” have photometric redshifts of z≈5. Further, we show that CEERS-1749 may lie in a z≈5 protocluster that is ≳5× overdense compared to the field. Intense line emission at z≈5 from a quiescent galaxy harboring ionized gas, or from a dusty starburst, may provide satisfactory explanations for CEERS-1749’s photometry.
The emission lines at z≈5 conspire to boost the >2μm photometry, producing an apparent blue slope as well as a strong break in the SED. Such a perfectly disguised contaminant is possible only in a narrow redshift window (Δz≲0.1), implying that the permitted volume for such interlopers may not be a major concern for z>10 searches, particularly when medium-bands are deployed. If CEERS-1749 is confirmed to lie at z≈5, it will be the highest-redshift quiescent galaxy, or one of the lowest mass dusty galaxies of the early Universe detected to-date. Both redshift solutions of this intriguing galaxy hold the potential to challenge existing models of early galaxy evolution, making spectroscopic follow-up of this source critica
Can a galaxy exist in two places at once? The Ceers 1749 galaxy candidate discovered by the new James Webb space telescope appears to do just that.
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