Ever sinces the incident of Big Bang, about 14 billion years ago. The Universe was a violent place, full of gaseous pollution.
We don’t know for sure yet- how big our universe is. What we know is, its home to at least as much stars, as much there are grains of sand on earth.
Using a radio antenna not much larger than a refrigerator, astronomers have detected for the first time a signal from stars emerging in the early universe.
They discovered that ancient (stars) were active within 180 million years of the Big Bang, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
The astronomers made the discovery with their Experiment to Detect the Global EoR (Epoch of Reionization) Signature (EDGES) project.
“Finding this mini-scale signal has opened a new window to the early universe,” said lead investigator on the project Judd Bowman of the University of Arizona, US.
“Telescopes cannot see far enough to directly image such ancient stars, but we’ve seen when they captured radio waves arriving from space,” Bowman said.
Models of the early universe predict such stars were massive, blue and short-lived.
Astronomer have been hunting for indirect evidence. That includes tell-tale change in the background and electromagnetic radiation that occupy the universe, called the cosmic microwave background (CMB).
A small dip in intensity, for example, should be apparent in CMB radio signals. But Earth’s crowded radio-wave environment has hampered astronomer’s search.
The researchers set up the EDGES antennae in the desert to eliminate as much radio noise as possible. For this they selecting an isolated site at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Australia, run by nation’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Once the signal emerged in their data, the astronomers initiated a years-long process to check and recheck their findings against any known causes of instrumental errors and rule out potential sources of radio interference.
In all, EDGES applied dozens of verification tests to ensure that the signal was truly from space.
While confirming the signal, the EDGES data also raised new questions, as the signal was twice as intense as models had predicted.
The researchers says; “This means either the fog of hydrogen gas, after Big Bang, cooled much earlier than expected or background radiation levels were significantly hotter than the photons of the CMB.
The Dark Matter Playing!
The study author suggest one possibility is that dark matter interactions may explain the effect.
“If that idea is confirmed, then we’ve learned something new and fundamental about the mysterious of dark matter that makes up 85 percent of the matter in the universe. This would provide the first glimpse of physics beyond the standard model,” Bowman said.
Larger radio arrays are continuing the search and are expected to build beyond the initial EDGES findings to gain far greater insight into the earliest stars and galaxies.
“This discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of how the world we see came into being”, said Peter Kurczynski, the US National Science Foundation director who oversaw funding for EDGES.
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