Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Astronomers detect stellar ashes at dawn of time


Using a powerful instrument on a telescope in Hawaii, UK astronomers have found ashes from a generation of stars that died over 10 billion years ago. This is the first time that the tell-tale cosmic dust has been detected at such an early stage in the evolution of the universe.

Dr. Kate Isaak of Cambridge University will be announcing these exciting new results at the National Astronomy Meeting in Bristol on 11th April 2002.

Using the SCUBA (Submillimetre Common-User Bolometer Array) camera on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, the team of British astronomers observed a sample of the most distant quasars known, to detect their primeval `host` galaxies. The submillimetre wavelength radiation detected by SCUBA comes from large amounts of cool dust, a substance formed in supernovae and/or the atmospheres of old stars.

Team leader Dr. Robert Priddey (Imperial College) said "These quasars are the most distant submillimetre sources known. We`re looking more than nine-tenths of the way back to the birth of the universe in the Big Bang."

The quasars are extremely far from us, as measured by their very high redshifts of 5-6. These huge distances mean that their light was emitted when the universe was less than a tenth of its current age -- a mere billion years after the Big Bang. Consequently, the host galaxies are caught when they are extremely young, and when astronomers might expect to see a burst of star formation.

Dr. Priddey explained "It`s amazing enough that these quasars, powered by billion solar mass black holes, should already exist only a billion years after the Big Bang. That these quasars also appear to contain so much dust yields important clues to the formation of massive galaxies in the youthful cosmos."

Although it is not yet known whether the dust in these quasars is heated by hot, young stars within the galaxy, or directly by the quasar itself, the very existence of the dust and its constituent elements such as silicon and carbon implies that a large mass of stars have already been born, grown old and expired, within only a billion years of the Big Bang.

Dr. Isaak said "These observations of very distant quasars are part of a programme looking at the submillimetre emission of quasars from low to high redshift. If we hunt for ever higher redshift quasars, we might catch the epoch at which the first dust forms."

Team member Dr. Richard McMahon (University of Cambridge) added "The stars that made the carbon and silicon in these quasars are probably like the stars that made the carbon in our own bodies. It is very exciting to be able to learn when the chemical elements in our bodies were made. These quasars seem to be forming stars at a rate of around 1000 stars like the Sun per year."

Dr Robert Priddey | alphagalileo

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Taming chaos: Calculating probability in complex systems
21.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds
21.03.2018 | Arizona State University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

21.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>