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Star formation underway 250 million years after Big Bang
17 May 2018, 10:46 | Justin Tyler
Of 13.28 billion years ago in the galaxy MACS1149-JD1 was there and killed a whole generation of stars
Pinpointing this period of star birth - which gave rise to oxygen, carbon and other elements in the universe - is a holy grail for astronomers chasing down the beginning of everything.
What made this discovery so incredible is that the signal is believed to have been emitted 13.3bn years ago making it not only the most distant oxygen ever detected, but shows stars were forming as little as 250m years after the Big Bang.
In order to discover when did the star formation occurred, scientists reconstructed the earlier history of MACS1149-JD1 using infrared data taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope.
"It turns out that this galaxy after only 500 million years after its origin was filled with Mature stars".
The universe's first stars may have formed a mere 250 million years after the big bang-hundreds of millions of years earlier than thought, according to a new study. It's this light signal that ALMA has picked up some 13 billion years later, although in that time the expansion of the universe has stretched the light into the millimeter wavelength.
"The mature stellar population in MACS1149-JD1 implies that stars were forming back to even earlier times, beyond what we can now see with our telescopes", says Nicolas Laporte, an astronomer on the research team. "We have for the first time observed the very early stage of star formation in the universe". "This detection pushes back the frontiers of the observable Universe", said Dr. Takuya Hashimoto, an astronomer at both Osaka Sangyo University and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. The VLT helped in studying the "spectral lines from hydrogen" and the Alma helped in studying the "spectral lines from oxygen".
A group of researchers has reportedly detected oxygen in a far-off galaxy, which is near about thirteen billion light-years away from our planet.
MACS1149-JD1 is the most distant known galaxy with a precise distance measurement, said the researchers.
The maturity of the stars seen in MACS1149-JD1 raises the question of when the very first galaxies emerged from total darkness, an epoch astronomers call 'cosmic dawn'. 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.
"With MACS1149-JD1, we have managed to probe history beyond the limits of when we can actually detect galaxies with current facilities", said Richard Ellis, another UCL co-author of the study. There is renewed optimism we are getting closer and closer to witnessing directly the birth of starlight. "Since we are all made of processed stellar material, this is really finding our own origins".
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