Technology Our Understanding of the Early Universe May Soon Shift

07:20  17 may  2018
07:20  17 may  2018 Source:   newsweek.com

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(Phys.org)—A new paradigm for understanding the earliest eras in the history of the universe has been developed by scientists at Penn State University. Ashtekar said, "It is exciting that we soon may be able to test different predictions from these two Our universe may exist inside a black hole.

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a star in the middle of the night sky © Provided by IBT Media

Our current understanding of the beginning of the universe, including the initial formation of stars and galaxies, may be about to change thanks to the recent detection of oxygen in distant space. The oxygen is the furthest sign of this important gas ever detected, and studying it could help us finally discover when the first starlight emerged in the darkness that followed the Big Bang.

The study was published Wednesday in Nature, and it reported the oxygen came from MACS1149-JD1, the most distant galaxy ever observed by Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), two of the most powerful telescopes on Earth. Observations were made between March 2016 and April 2017.

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Ashtekar said, "It is exciting that we soon may be able to test different predictions from these two theories against future discoveries with next-generation observational missions. Such experiments will help us to continue gaining a deeper understanding of the very, very early universe ."

The current theory on the beginning of the universe maintains that an event called the Big Bang spurred the emergence of everything that exists in space and on Earth. However, stars and their galaxies did not form immediately after the Big Bang. It took several millions of years before the first stars emerged. 

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There was also no oxygen in the early universe. The fundamental gas was created by the formation of the very first stars and released into space when these stars died. For this reason, the presence of distant oxygen is a sign there were earlier generations of stars in this galaxy, an emailed press release on the study reported. 

It can take millions of years for signals to travel across space. Although we are seeing it now, the gas glow from this far-off galaxy was likely emitted 500 million years after the universe was first formed.

Oxygen presence in distant galaxy sheds light on early universe

  Oxygen presence in distant galaxy sheds light on early universe <p>After detecting a whiff of oxygen, astronomers have determined that stars in a faraway galaxy formed 250 million years after the Big Bang -- a rather short time in cosmic terms -- in a finding that sheds light on conditions in the early universe.</p>Their research, published on Wednesday, provides insight into star formation in perhaps the most distant galaxy ever observed. The scientists viewed the galaxy, called MACS1149-JD1, as it existed roughly 550 million years after the Big Bang, which gave rise to the universe about 13.8 billion years ago.

A new paradigm for understanding the earliest eras in the history of the universe has been developed. It’s our deepest look yet back into the time of the very early universe . Ashtekar said, “It is exciting that we soon may be able to test different predictions from these two theories against

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According to the study, the presence of oxygen shows that there were earlier generations of mature stars in this galaxy, dating before that 500-million-year mark.

"The mature stellar population in MACS1149-JD1 implies that stars were forming back to even earlier times, beyond what we can currently see with our telescopes," said Nicolas Laporte, a researcher at University College London/Université de Toulouse and a member of the research team, in a statement

This suggests starlight first emerged sooner than previously thought. 

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Once stars emerged, galaxies followed, and eventually, everything found in these galaxies, including us, began to take shape. Tracing back the origin of starlight in the universe is critical to revealing the origin of galaxy formation, an event referred to as the “cosmic dawn.”The scientists plan to continue to study this distant universe in order to answer this important question.

"With these new observations of MACS1149-JD1 we are getting closer to directly witnessing the birth of starlight!”  said Richard Ellis, senior astronomer at UCL and co-author of the paper in a statement. “Since we are all made of processed stellar material, this is really finding our own origins.”

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