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The dawn of time

Spitzer imageThe earliest images yet of the Universe have been released by NASA. They were taken with the Spitzer space telescope. After masking out more recent objects in the foreground (grey blobs in this image), the orange and yellow patterns show clumps of the first objects to form in the Universe, which were either giant stars or black holes, according to NASA’s press release.

2 Responses to The dawn of time

  1. Michael says:

    Actually, the earliest image of the Universe is the cosmic microwave background created 300,000 after the big bang (see http://wmap.gsfc.nasa.gov/m_mm.html for the most recent images). These Spitzer images claim to show the light from the first gravitationally collapsed objects to start radiating, while the cosmic microwave background is the made up of the relic photons from the big bang itself.

  2. Andy says:

    You are quite right. As I understand it after things cooled off a bit following the Big Bang, the Universe was full of neutral hydrogen atoms, which block radiation. When the first stars fired up, this hydrogen was reionized. So there was a “dark age” before the first stars appeared — also called the Gunn-Peterson Trough. Back in 2001 Bob Becker and colleagues observed this using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

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