Giant 'Baby' Galaxies Shake Up Understanding of the Early Universe

Following up to this conversation…
Astronomers Confirm Redshift of Distant Galaxy seen by JWST

…if the galaxies described here are confirmed, then that puts the nail in the coffin that astronomers had any model or parameters that fit JWST observations.

As far as I understand it, either stars were small and began to combine to form larger stars or large stars formed first, but both made small galaxies in the early universe

From the scientist:

I run the analysis software on the little pinprick and it spits out two numbers: distance 13.1 billion light years, mass 100 billion stars, and I nearly spit out my coffee. We just discovered the impossible. Impossibly early, impossibly massive galaxies…

There is a problem, however. These little red dots have too many stars, too early. Stars form out of hydrogen gas, and fundamental cosmological (“Big Bang”) theory makes hard predictions on how much gas is available to form stars.

To produce these galaxies so quickly, you almost need all the gas in the universe to turn into stars at near 100% efficiency. And that is very hard, which is the scientific term for impossible. This discovery could transform our understanding of how the earliest galaxies in the universe formed.

This alone maybe isn’t interesting because it’s not a lot different than the previous thread.

But I was randomly searching for something related to another topic and came across this article on ICR’s website:

This article describes the Tolman test and that bright galaxies don’t fit the predictions of the Big Bang, and suggests creationists should work on this problem James Webb Telescope vs. the Big Bang | The Institute for Creation Research

I have read more articles recently that explain the stars that JWST is seeing are very bright and compact. Now we have very bright and super compact galaxies.

Early dead galaxies are truly bizarre creatures, packing as many stars as the Milky Way, but in a size 30 times smaller. Imagine an adult, weighing 100 kilos, but standing 6cm tall. Our little red dots are equally bizarre. They look like baby versions of the same galaxies, also weighing in at 100 kilos, with a height of 6cm.

So it seems to me there’s something we’re missing about light since it seems like the universe is acting like a concave mirror (perhaps not the right metaphor) Maybe astronomers might begin to question redshift (read the whole ICR article for explanation) when so many stars and galaxies are compact and bright. But they also have to start over with galaxy formation, so it may take a while for theorists to even begin somewhere - question the brightness and compactness or consider it to be real and try to form a model based on that?

Its exciting to see observations affecting science. Happy to live in historic times. It’s amazing what can be seen.

I’d rephrase that to “if the observed galaxies here and the science of galaxy formation are described correctly in this pop-sci dramatization.”


That wouldn’t make us question the characteristics of light or redshift. It would make us question our models of early galaxy formation.

The reality of light and redshift is already cemented by our observations of standard candles in galaxies, the spectrum of light from galaxies, and the properties of light observed in the laboratory.


Would you feel better if I quoted the same scientist in his paper rather than from his popular article?

A more fundamental issue is that these stellar mass densities are difficult to realize in a standard LCDM
cosmology, as pointed out by several recent studies. Our fiducial mass densities push against the limit set by the number of available baryons in the most massive dark matter halos.
A population of red candidate massive galaxies ~600 Myr after the Big Bang | Nature

Here is one of the recent studies he cited. [2208.01611] Stress Testing $Λ$CDM with High-redshift Galaxy Candidates

Here is his bio:

Ivo Labbe joined Swinburne in 2018. After earning a PhD from Leiden University, he was a Carnegie Fellow and a NASA/Hubble Fellow at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena (USA), and faculty at Leiden observatory (NL).

His research interests span the formation of the first generations of galaxies, when the universe was only a few percent of its current age, their explosive buildup through cosmic time, and their demise when star formation activity ground to a sudden halt. The world’s most powerful telescopes on Earth and in space (Hubble, Spitzer, Keck, Very Large Telescope, ALMA) are used to piece together these early chapters of cosmic history; a field soon to be revolutionized by the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope. Together with his collaborators in United States, Europe, and Swinburne, Labbe has broken the record for the most distant galaxy numerous times.

Edit: I’m also assuming Nature doesn’t release a pre-print without having high confidence in the authors. Obviously they helped to create the press in the last 24 hours by doing so.

Yes. The thing that would have to budge here is something about gravity relevant to dark matter, and/or how matter in the early universe condensed as it cooled down.

I get that @thoughtful hopes and wants this to be about how light works, because she understands that the speed of light, the size of the universe, and redshifts really presents a huge problem for YEC. So if something in cosmology is unexpected or surprising, she’s going to be jumping to that in her head.

But there’s nothing about any of this that remotely indicates we don’t understand light. It rather indicates we still have a poor understanding of dark matter, gravity, and the earliest periods of the universe. This isn’t about the age and distance to these objects, it’s about the mechanisms by which they form.


To use an analogy, it would be like a prosecutor proposing light is somehow acting different when it reflects off the evidence so that when you look at the fingerprints from the crime scene they no longer match the fingerprints from the defendant.


Not really. I was actually more excited about something else unexpected going on. :slightly_smiling_face: It got my imagination going.

I’m not too worried about any problems right now. I’m just along for the ride, and understanding the science where I can. I’m happy to poke at current theories too just to see what you guys will say. I always learn more than I expected by doing so.

Yes, a lot. I find that paper a lot less grandiose than the pop-sci article:

The tension discussed in this paper is straightforward: the masses measured by L22 are only consistent with expectations from the standard cosmological model at the reported redshifts if star formation in the earliest phases of galaxy formation is incredibly efficient (ϵ ≥ 0.57). In the low-redshift Universe, such efficiencies are never seen, with ϵ ≲ 0.2 for all galaxies. The theoretical expectation is that efficiencies do indeed increase at high redshift (Tacchella et al. 2018), though ϵ ≥ 0.57 is still highly extreme and likely implausibly high. If the explanation of the L22 galaxies is indeed a very high star formation efficiency, it implies that the star formation histories of such systems must rise steeply with time, following the behavior of the baryon reservoirs inside of virialized structures in ΛCDM. The results presented here could also be explained if the stellar IMF differs substantially from the assumed Salpeter form, the flux calibration of NIRCam changes from the latest post-flight determinations, or the volumes currently surveyed turn out to be highly atypical.

That reads to me like adjustments to parameters in existing models, some of which are assumed, can accommodate these observations.


True, and perhaps we should not be surprised at being surprised by these JWST findings in regards to early epoch structures, if they stand up to scrutiny, given that explanations for such observations as the CMB cold spot, dark matter, and supermassive black holes, were and remain to some degree unresolved. The common element to these questions is the gravitational effect on the distribution of matter under the conditions of the early universe, and it has long been apparent that our current understanding is inadequate.


Another good lesson that humans are fallen and their cognitive faculties are not always reliable—and that science is a best guess process and may not necessarily produce truthful outcomes.

Guesses, or hypothesis, do not necessarily produce truthful outcomes. Guesses have been with us over the history of mankind, but only science has proven to be a reliable methodology to eliminate the crappy guesses concerning nature. The process does take time, however. Nobody would dispute gas kinematics today, but Boltzmann went to his grave with his work still in dispute. We must not mistake uncertainty at the penumbra of knowledge with some notion that everything scientifically established can realistically be overturned.


And the “problem” of supermassive black holes is getting worse by the day.

“Frankly, explaining the existence of around 15 very early luminous quasars [from the same time period as COS-87259] was a big challenge for extragalactic astronomy given how short of a time there is to grow such a massive black hole since the Big Bang,” lead study author Ryan Endsley(opens in new tab), an astronomer at the University of Texas, Austin, told Live Science. “If very early billion-solar-mass black holes are thousands of times more common than we originally thought (as implied by our discovery, unless you assume we were incredibly lucky) this just exacerbates the problem further.”

I’m virtually certain that’s the same problem. Supermassive black holes are only found in galactic centers. Their formation is thought to be intrinsic to galaxy formation (essentially “seeded” by the same density fluctuations thought to have given rise to galaxies), and so if very dense galactic cores formed much more frequently than anticipated, so did supermassive black holes at their centers too.

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Or they may be the solution.

“Cosmological Coupling” – New Evidence Points to Black Holes as Source of Dark Energy

Really, there is nothing for us to be afraid of here. The science of the early universe is still very tentative and speculative. New discoveries are far more likely to help us nail it down than to overthrow more settled science. There’s really no chance of it overturning the fact that the Earth is billions of years old.


Sabine Hossenfelder addresses these large early galaxies in her space news video for this week:

Basically, the standard Lambda-CDM model of cosmology doesn’t predict galaxies to grow as quickly as seen here, but there are other models which do (and so receive confirmation over the standard model via these new observations).


On a related note here I find it interesting that Sabine says that there are existing, competing models that predict early massive galaxies, and that these have been known about for quite some time, and that the problems with CDM have been known about for some time, which other models solve, while also predicting earlier massive galaxies than CDM, which until recently had not been observationally confirmed.

That got me thinking, Jason Lisle is an astrophysicist. He can’t possibly not be aware of this. I find it almost impossible to believe he would not be aware of the situation in cosmology about the problems with CDM, and how other models supposedly solve these problems while predicting early massive galaxies. Which for a time simply haven’t been observationally confirmed.

Which makes me wonder just how much of a “prediction” Jason Lisle’s prediction really is. I mean as opposed to him having simply copied the idea from modified gravity models and then presenting it without attribution or any details or elaboration, as if it is his own prediction (from what?) that somehow supports YEC (because the bible says there should be extremely compact and massive galactic cores at redshifts over 15?).


Yeah just saw this, which led me to this older video of hers:

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I had a similar experience reading Dembski; he has a degree in statistics but makes claims any MS Stat student MUST know are wrong. There are other examples.

The last I checked (a few years?) Lisle was no longer working as any sort of astrophysicist, but running his own apologetics ministry. It’s possible he doesn’t even have access to current journals.


Bechly on cladograms is one; Luskin on use of trial submissions is another. Snelling is a third.


I was going to post yesterday and saw that you had beaten me to it. :slightly_smiling_face: I really wish she would have gotten into more detail than just flatly saying it was a prediction of MOND. I tried to look up why. I didn’t find anything I could actually begin to understand.

Just came across this, which was quite interesting. The giant arcs that may dwarf everything in the cosmos - BBC Future

Looks like the standard model of cosmology “on its own” may be dying a slow death. Perhaps larger galactic structures are a prediction of MOND too? No idea.