A massive quiescent galaxy at redshift 4.658

Adam C. Carnall*, Ross J. McLure, James S. Dunlop, Derek J. McLeod, Vivienne Wild, Fergus Cullen, Dan Magee, Ryan Begley, Andrea Cimatti, Callum T. Donnan, Massissilia L. Hamadouche, Sophie M. Jewell, Sam Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The extremely rapid assembly of the earliest galaxies during the first billion years of cosmic history is a major challenge for our understanding of galaxy formation physics (1; 2; 3; 4; 5). The advent of JWST has exacerbated this issue by confirming the existence of galaxies in significant numbers as early as the first few hundred million years (6; 7; 8). Perhaps even more surprisingly, in some galaxies, this initial highly efficient star formation rapidly shuts down, or quenches, giving rise to massive quiescent galaxies as little as 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang (9; 10), however, due to their faintness and red colour, it has proven extremely challenging to learn about these extreme quiescent galaxies, or to confirm whether any exist at earlier times. Here we report the spectroscopic confirmation of a massive quiescent galaxy, GS-9209, at redshift, z = 4.658, just 1.25 billion years after the Big Bang, using JWST NIRSpec. From these data we infer a stellar mass of M∗ = 3.8 ± 0.2 × 1010 M⊙, which formed over a ≃ 200 Myr period before this galaxy quenched its star formation activity at z=6.5+0.2−0.5, when the Universe was ≃ 800 million years old. This galaxy is both a likely descendent of the highest-redshift submillimetre galaxies and quasars, and a likely progenitor for the dense, ancient cores of the most massive local galaxies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716–719
Number of pages4
Issue number7971
Early online date22 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2023


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