Recent data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope indicate the first stars’ birth in the early Universe occurred sooner than previously believed.
Discovering more about the very first galaxies is still a challenge. Astronomers struggle to find out how or when the first galaxies and stars in the Universe formed. Luckily, the Hubble Space Telescope seems to have some answers.
The Hubble Space Telescope Made an Unexpected Discovery
A team of researchers examined the first generation of stars in the early Universe. Called Population III stars, they were shaped from the ancient material that emerged from the Big Bang.
Population III stars must have been produced out of hydrogen, lithium, and helium – the only elements that survived before processes in the cores of these stars could form heavier elements, like oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and iron. The team surveyed the early Universe from almost 500 million to 1 billion years after the Big Bang by analyzing the cluster MACSJ0416 and its close field with the Hubble Space Telescope. The result was obtained utilizing the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3, as part of the Hubble Frontier Fields program.
That program realized the most profound observations ever made of galaxy clusters and the galaxies situated behind them. The gravitational lensing effect magnified the cosmic features, unveiling galaxies 10 to 100 times dimmer than any previously observed. Such a thing enables Hubble to utilize these cosmic magnifying lenses to examine objects that are far beyond its formal operational skills.
“This also strongly supports the idea that low-mass/faint galaxies in the early Universe are responsible for reionization,” detailed Rachana Bhatawdekar from the ESA.
The recent data indicates, too, that the earliest formation of galaxies and stars happened much earlier than can be surveyed with the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s truly an intriguing thing because it leaves an important area of further research for the next NASA/CSA/ESA James Webb Space Telescope.