Galaxies with stellar masses as high as ~ 1011 solar masses have been identified1–3 out to redshifts z ~ 6, approximately one billion years after the Big Bang. It has been difficult to find massive galaxies at even earlier times, as the Balmer break region, which is needed for accurate mass estimates, is redshifted to wavelengths beyond 2.5 μm. Here we make use of the 1-5 μm coverage of the JWST early release observations to search for intrinsically red galaxies in the first ≈ 750 million years of cosmic history. In the survey area, we find six candidate massive galaxies (stellar mass > 1010 solar masses) at 7.4 ≤ z ≤ 9.1, 500–700 Myr after the Big Bang, including one galaxy with a possible stellar mass of ~1011 solar masses. If verified with spectroscopy, the stellar mass density in massive galaxies would be much higher than anticipated from previous studies based on rest-frame ultraviolet-selected samples.
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Labbé, I., van Dokkum, P., Nelson, E. et al. A population of red candidate massive galaxies ~600 Myr after the Big Bang. Nature (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-05786-2
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