Recent observations from the Hubble Space Telescope show the first galaxies and stars might have formed even earlier than previously believed.
A team of astronomers utilized Hubble and looked back in time as far as it could view, expecting to examine the first generation of stars, known as Population III. Here is what you should know.
Hubble Might Successfully Detect the First Generation of Stars One Day
The Hubble Space Telescope inspected and looked back to when the Universe was only 500 million years old (it is believed to be Hubble’s limit) and discovered no proof of the very first stars, dubbed the Population III.
The Population III must have been made entirely of hydrogen, lithium, and helium. These are the only elements that were before processes in the cores of those stars could make more substantial elements, like nitrogen, oxygen, iron, and carbon.
Rachana Bhatawdekar is from the European Space Agency. She led a team of astronomers and surveyed the early Universe from almost 500 million to 1 billion years after the Big Bang. They examined the star cluster MACSJ0416 and the surrounding environment with the Hubble Space Telescope, the ground-based Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory, and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
The observations were mainly part of Hubble’s Frontier Fields project. It surveyed six distant galaxy clusters from 2012 to 2017 – the most profound observations ever produced of galaxy clusters and the galaxies situated behind them. Such a thing was achieved by utilizing the gravitational lensing effect.
The spotted galaxies are between 10 to 100 times dimmer than any previously detected. Bhatawdekar and her team realized a new method that eliminates the light from the bright foreground galaxies that form those gravitational lenses. The technique allowed them to find galaxies with lower masses than ever previously discovered with Hubble, at a length corresponding to when the Universe was only a billion years old.
“These results have profound astrophysical consequences as they show that galaxies must have formed much earlier than we thought,” detailed Bhatawdekar. She also stated that further research is much needed.