Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Star formation underway 250 million years after Big Bang

Star formation underway 250 million years after Big Bang

The team determined that, if the oxygen signature was from 500 million years after the Big Bang, then the first stars in that galaxy would have been born about 250 million years post-Big Bang.

Nicolas Laporte, a researcher at University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom said, "This galaxy is seen at a time when the Universe was only 500 million years old and yet it already has a population of mature stars". But it augurs well for future telescopes that will be tuned to see the dawn - namely, the James Webb space observatory, which is due for launch in 2020. This project is regarded to succeed the Hubble and reportedly would be carrying a huge mirror and tools built for the detection of the glow emitted by the initial star population.

In addition, ALMA also detected a weaker signal of hydrogen emission was also detected by ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT).

Ellis said that the object's horizon is known as Redshift 9.1.

"That means the Universe has expanded nine to 10 times since the light left this object".

Its faint light has taken so long to reach Earth that its journey began just 500 million years after the Big Bang - the cataclysmic event that brought the cosmos into being. "We have for the first time observed the very early stage of star formation in the universe". That gives us an indication of how much earlier in the history of the Universe - which we can't now probe with our telescopes - that this object actually formed.

By establishing the age of MACS1149-JD1, the team has effectively demonstrated the existence of early galaxies to times earlier than those where we can now directly detect them.

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All the elements heavier than these three had to be forged inside stars through the process of nuclear fusion. At the end of their lives, the stars exploded, spreading those elements through space. They measured the frequency of a peak in the galaxy's spectrum that comes from ionized oxygen gas.

The team, led by astronomers at University College London in the United Kingdom and Osaka Sangyo University in Japan, detected a very faint glow emitted by ionized oxygen in MACS1149-JD1. "We think it was a gradual event and so clearly it is going to take statistics to work out exactly when it happened". Both facilities are located in Chile's Atacama desert.

The team is quite not finished with MACS1149-JD1.

"Prior to our study, there were only theoretical predictions of the earliest star formation".

"If we could demonstrate there is a black hole here that would be unbelievable", commented UCL team-member Dr Nicolas Laporte.

It's not the first time that ALMA has found distant sources of oxygen: The record has been broken many times. This is because stars are the burning crucibles that convert hydrogen and helium into larger elements - without stars, there is no oxygen."I was thrilled to see the signal of the distant oxygen in the ALMA data", said lead author Takuya Hashimoto, a researcher at Osaka Sangyo University and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, in a press release.

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