How and when did the stars in the Universe form?
To answer, we must look back through cosmic time.
But individual stars can only be resolved in nearby galaxies.
Large Milky Way-like galaxies form stars throughout their history.
But smaller galaxies formed stars all of a sudden, a long time ago, within our local group.
One of these galaxies is Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte: WLM, just 3.04 million light-years away.
WLM, in the constellation of Cetus, is gravitationally bound to us, moving towards us at 122 km/s.
Much of its inner stars formed suddenly: 13 billion years ago.
These stars are extremely pristine, with only 0.6% of the heavy elements found in the Sun.
New stars are still forming sporadically inside, but these “old” stars represent an ancient, relict population.
The only known globular cluster in WLM is also old and metal-poor.
But JWST’s new view offers amazing new insights.
It’s a big improvement over Spitzer’s previous infrared sight.
Even its faint and faint stars are easily resolved.
JWST’s NIRCam reveals several thousand individual objects.
Low-density regions exhibit more pristine stellar populations.
The dustiest areas suggest dynamic pressure blasting.
Occasionally, background galaxies appear.
Scientific knowledge will reveal how stars were formed long ago in the pristine environment of the early Universe.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in pictures, visuals and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.