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Scientists study universe's first objects

Posted on Saturday, December 23 2006 @ 22:00:58 CET by

Astronomers might have spotted the very first stars in the universe, by using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. These stars could be 1,000 times as massive as our Sun, or if it aren't stars, it could be early black holes that consume gas voraciously and spit out radiation like crazy:
"We are pushing our telescopes to the limit and are tantalizingly close to getting a clear picture of the very first collections of objects," said Alexander Kashlinsky of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, lead author of two reports to be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. "Whatever these objects are, they are intrinsically incredibly bright and very different from anything in existence today."

The light comes from objects that are more than 13 billion light-years away. That means the light began its journey more than 13 billion years ago. The universe is just a smidgeon older, at 13.7 billion years, and astronomers are pretty sure it took a few hundred million years for the matter of the big bang to spread out enough, and cool, to allow the first stars to form.

A little math therefore shows that these newfound objects are indeed the infants of the universe. But what are they? If they are stars, they are about 10 times more massive than theories suggest the first stars would have been.
Learn more at MSNBC.



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