A Milky Way-like barred spiral galaxy at a redshift of 3

Luca Costantin, Pablo G. Pérez-González, Yuchen Guo, Chiara Buttitta, Shardha Jogee, Micaela B. Bagley, Guillermo Barro, Jeyhan S. Kartaltepe, Anton M. Koekemoer, Cristina Cabello, Enrico Maria Corsini, Jairo Méndez-Abreu, Alexander de la Vega, Kartheik G. Iyer, Laura Bisigello, Yingjie Cheng, Lorenzo Morelli, Pablo Arrabal Haro, Fernando Buitrago, M. C. CooperAvishai Dekel, Mark Dickinson, Steven L. Finkelstein, Mauro Giavalisco, Benne W. Holwerda, Marc Huertas-Company, Ray A. Lucas, Casey Papovich, Nor Pirzkal, Lise Marie Seillé, Jesús Vega-Ferrero, Stijn Wuyts, L. Y. Aaron Yung

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The majority of massive disk galaxies in the local Universe show a stellar barred structure in their central regions, including our Milky Way1,2. Bars are supposed to develop in dynamically cold stellar disks at low redshift, as the strong gas turbulence typical of disk galaxies at high redshift suppresses or delays bar formation3,4. Moreover, simulations predict bars to be almost absent beyond z = 1.5 in the progenitors of Milky Way-like galaxies5,6. Here we report observations of ceers-2112, a barred spiral galaxy at redshift z phot ≈ 3, which was already mature when the Universe was only 2 Gyr old. The stellar mass (M = 3.9 × 109 M ) and barred morphology mean that ceers-2112 can be considered a progenitor of the Milky Way7–9, in terms of both structure and mass-assembly history in the first 2 Gyr of the Universe, and was the closest in mass in the first 4 Gyr. We infer that baryons in galaxies could have already dominated over dark matter at z ≈ 3, that high-redshift bars could form in approximately 400 Myr and that dynamically cold stellar disks could have been in place by redshift z = 4–5 (more than 12 Gyrs ago)10,11.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-501
Early online date8 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank S. Roca-Fàbrega and E. Borsato for their comments. L.C. acknowledges financial support from the Comunidad de Madrid under Atracción de Talento grant no. 2018-T2/TIC-11612. L.C. and P.G.P.-G. acknowledge support from grant nos. PGC2018-093499-B-I00, PID2022-139567NB-I00 and MDM-2017-0737 Unidad de Excelencia ‘Maria de Maeztu’ Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation/State Agency of Research MCIN/AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033, FEDER, UE. C.C. acknowledges support from grant nos. PRE2019-087503 and PID2021-123417OB-I00 funded by MCIN/AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033 ‘ESF Investing in your future’ and ‘ERDF A way of making Europe’, respectively. J.M.A. acknowledges the support of the Viera y Clavijo Senior program funded by ACIISI and ULL and the support of the Agencia Estatal de Investigación del Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033) under grant nos. PID2021-128131NB-I00 and CNS2022-135482 and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) ‘A way of making Europe’ and the ‘NextGenerationEU/PRTR’. F.B. and J.V.F. acknowledge the support from grant no. PID2020-116188GA-I00 by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, and F.B. also acknowledges grant no. PID2019-107427GB-C32. Support for this work was provided by NASA through grant no. JWST-ERS-01345 awarded by the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555.

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