Sunday, June 10, 2012

First Objects After the Big Bang Burned Furiously

Hey Space Placers!

We're going infrared again but this time with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Astronomers took an image taken with Spitzer and removed all of the ordinary objects visible (top panel) and what remained (bottom panel) was the pattern of light from the very first objects to have formed after the Big Bang!

Hidden Patterns of Light Revealed by Spitzer

Spitzer cannot resolve the bottom image into individual components but when the James Webb Space Telescope launches it will be a whole new ball game.

As explained by NASA: "The universe formed roughly 13.7 billion years ago in a fiery, explosive Big Bang. With time, it cooled and, by around 500 million years later, the first stars, galaxies and black holes began to take shape. Astronomers say some of that "first light" might have traveled billions of years to reach the Spitzer Space Telescope. The light would have originated at visible or even ultraviolet wavelengths and then, because of the expansion of the universe, stretched out to the longer, infrared wavelengths observed by Spitzer."

Astronomers think that the very first objects could have been "voracious black holes" or "wildly massive stars" as described in the press release. One thing is certain - these objects were furiously burning their nuclear fuel. 

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