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Baby Stars Found Just 250 Million Years after Big Bang

May 16, 2018
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Baby Stars Found Just 250 Million Years after Big Bang

An international team of astronomers found evidence of baby stars formed only 250 million years after big bang. They used ALMA telescope.

So, using instruments at the ALMA observatory in Chile, astronomers were able to observe a distant galaxy called MACS1149-JD1.

This galaxy lies 13.28 billion light-years away and its stars formed just 250 million years after the Big Bang.

The research team also revealed that MACS1149-JD1 is the most distant source of oxygen we know. Also, the most distant galaxy with a precise distance measurement.

“For such a young galaxy, known as MACS1149-JD1, to contain detectable traces of oxygen, it must have begun forging stars even earlier: a scant 250 million years after the Big Bang. This is exceptionally early in the history of the universe and suggests that rich chemical environments evolved quickly,” authors wrote in the journal phys.org.

Research Team

Groups at University College London (UCL) and Osaka Sangyo University in Japan led the research team that made the discovery. The team did a precise measurement of the galaxy’s redshift – a stretching of the wavelength of light that signifies the speed at which an object is moving away from an observer.

However, ESA has also detected a weaker signal of hydrogen emission with the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The distance to the galaxy is consistent with the distance from the oxygen observation. So, this makes MACS1149-JD1 the most distant galaxy with a precise distance measurement. Also, the most distant galaxy ever observed with ALMA or the VLT.

“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,” explains Nicolas Laporte, a researcher at University College London (UCL) in the UK and second author of the new paper. “We are therefore able to use this galaxy to probe into an earlier, completely uncharted period of cosmic history.”

This work is detailed today (May 16) in the journal Nature.

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Thumbnail image credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, W. Zheng (JHU), M. Postman (STScI), the CLASH Team, Hashimoto et al.

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