First Light that ever shone picked up by Astronomers

First Light that ever shone picked up by Astronomers

Scientists discover the first light to ever shine in the universe.

The research was being done for many years to find the first light ever to shine in this universe. According to the latest report, astronomers have managed to find the earliest stars which were the source of that light. Scientists deployed a simple radio antenna in one of the quietest places on the Earth. Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory is located in the deserts of Western Australia and this is the place where researchers picked signals of the most awaited ‘cosmic dawn’.

It was a difficult task due to the similarity of this frequency with other radio frequencies in the Milky Way. The presence of man-made radio stations exaggerated the difficulty level many times. The statement of Dr. Peter Kurcynski, Program Director at National Science Foundation, explains it clearly as he said,

It’s like being in the middle of a hurricane and trying to hear the flap of a hummingbird’s wing.

The importance of this discovery is so much that it is being described as revolutionary and the most important one since the detection of gravitational waves in the astronomical world. According to scientists, The Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago. The first ray of light emerged after quite a long period of time as these stars appeared 180 million years later. The whole universe was in complete darkness before that and all it had were a lot of gases.

Researchers believe that this was the time when a lot of new elements were formed in huge furnaces. These elements laid the foundation for the existence of life on the Earth.  Professor Carole Haswell, Astronomy Head at Open University described his excitement in the following words.

This is a very exciting result. There will be far-reaching implications for our understanding of the formation and early history of our Galaxy and all the other galaxies and clusters of Galaxies in the Universe. Wow!

The detection of the first light of the universe also tells us that the early stars were blue in color and were huge in size. They had a shorter lifespan in comparison to today’s stars. As a result, it was not possible for telescopes to find them. This is why astronomers were designated to perform this important task. They looked for changes in the ‘Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB)’. They are actually the variation of the background electromagnetic radiations emitted after The Big Bang. The lead investigator of this historic project, Judd Bowman said,

“Finding this minuscule signal has opened a new window on the early universe. Telescopes cannot see far enough to directly image such ancient stars, but we’ve seen when they turned on in radio waves arriving from space. It is unlikely that we’ll be able to see any earlier in the history of stars in our lifetimes.”

The theory proposed is that light from first stars collided with hydrogen atoms which lead to absorption of some of the background radiation. Due to this, the number of signals of CMB was reduced. Many scientists are of the view that even if such a signal is there, its frequency will be too low to be detected. The ideal frequency needed is in the range of 50-100 megahertz (MHz). The decrease in CMB was experienced at about 78 MHz. The co-author of the study, Alan Rogers gave away his findings and said,

“That frequency corresponds to roughly 180 million years after the Big Bang. This is the first real signal that stars are starting to form, and starting to affect the medium around them.”

The other side of the picture is that some scientists believe that this can have some implications as well. This information can be used to confirm the presence of dark matter particle although no one has managed to see it. One of them is Alan Duffy who is a Research Fellow in the Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology. He said

“This detected silhouette would be a first of its kind, one of the earliest detections of forming stars/galaxies and acts as a trailblazing observation in low-frequency radio astronomy for years to come. Yet that’s not even the most exciting part – it could be the very first confirmation of the dark matter particle.”

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