Saturday, January 8, 2011

Astronomy: Light on dark ages of the Universe

Artist's impression of a quasar (NASA/

Astronomers shed light on the Astronomers have discovered the "missing link" in the evolution of the universe following the Big Bang, it has been claimed.

For years scientists have known nothing about the "dark ages" of space -- a period between the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago and the [forma]tion of the first stars.

But Cambridge University researchers have now captured light emitted from a massive black hole to peer into this unknown portion of the history of the universe.

They discovered remnants of the first stars and evidence of the aftermath of an exploding star, which was 25 times larger than the sun.

Prof Max Pettini, of Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy, believes the discovery of these gases could help reveal the origins of the universe.

He said: "We have effectively been able to peer into the Dark Ages using the light emitted from a quasar.

"We discovered tiny amounts of elements present in the cloud in proportions that are very different from their relative proportions in normal stars today.

"Most significantly, the ratio of carbon to iron is 35 times greater than measured in the sun...." More>>

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