Researchers have found oxygen in one of the oldest galaxies known in the universe, located 13.1 billion light-years away from Earth. With this discovery, astronomers are hoping to understand the beginnings of the universe and stars.
This ancient galaxy called SXDF-NB10006-2 is being observed by scientists, just as it was 700 years ago after the world was born and after the universe’s ‘Dark Ages’ that didn’t let light come in.
There has been a lot of speculation and research from astronomers to understand some influence stars had in clearing this, so-called, dark ages of the universe.
Oxygen along with carbon are considered heavy elements that created the first stars across the universe. Having found oxygen in this distant galaxy, approaches astronomers to understand the beginnings of these molecules and galaxies.
Theories and investigations of the universe had determined that when the Big Bang occurred the cosmos was filled with atoms, thanks to the boiling temperatures, these atoms split into two kinds: positive nuclei and negative electrons, which sought light and didn’t allow it to travel.
Understanding the dark ages of our universe
380,000 years after this light-seeking nuclei and electrons transformed, the cosmos went back to normal temperatures and allowed them to go back to their atom form. According to the website Space.com, this allowed light into the cosmos.
This process is known as ‘reionization” which changed the matter in the universe ending this dark ages and allowing hydrogen and helium to reionize as well. This is also known as the second phase of change and is possible thanks to the condensation of the elements in the early universe.
Reionization allowed the formation of the first galaxies in the universe and also the birth of many stars, thanks to their ultraviolet light which helped to create and destroy hydrogen in the universe.
— RedOrbit (@redorbit) June 16, 2016
Even though temperatures played a significant role in reionization, researchers are still trying to understand the sources and the exact responsible for this process. Previous research has stated that massive stars might have something to do with it.
Astronomers have tried to find one of the first lights in the universe to have a closer look at its components. This is a complicated process since it requires the most distant lights, only observable by the highest telescopes in the world.
This discovery may be opening the gates to a large amount of information about the process of reionization and the beginnings of the universe.
The 13 billion-old galaxy was found by researchers on 2012 thanks to NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer telescope and an immense cosmic zoom used to see the dimmest lights.
This galaxy is smaller than the Milky Way, with just 600 light-years of wide, and it was born when the universe was just 420 millions years old. Researchers have thought the galaxy might combine with another to make a larger one.
By the time of its discovery, galaxy SXDF-NB10006-2 was the oldest one ever found by astronomers. But that title has been supplanted by several galaxies in the last four years. Its components are still a key to understanding the universe and its processes.
Thanks to data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a small amount of oxygen has been found in the ancient galaxy, due to its creation when the universe hadn’t yet developed as it has nowadays.
“The small abundance is expected because the Universe was still young and had a short history of star formation at that time. In fact, our simulation predicted an abundance ten times smaller than the Sun. But we have another, unexpected, result: a minuscule amount of dust,” said Naoki Yoshida, lead author of the study published in the journal Science.
Researchers still need to explain the small amount of dust found in the galaxy. Nonetheless, it is believed that its presence in the universe could have caused the entrance of light in the dark ages of the world.
These new discoveries are allowing astronomers to understand the components in distant galaxies and the role they have played in the creation and alteration of the cosmos.
The beginnings of the universe
The leading theory known to explain the beginnings of outer space is the Big Bang. Despite common beliefs, this process was not an explosion, and it was just an appearance with scorching and dense elements.
Proofs of the Big Bang are still palpable in the Universe. Especially lights and radiation that remained bouncing in outer space.
Researchers have been able to study this remains thanks to the development of technology and microwave detectors that investigate the background in space. This sets the pace for investigators to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together.
NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) was created to measure the radiation emitted by cosmic microwaves in space.