(ORDO NEWS) — An analysis of the data from the Hubble Space Telescope suggests that the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the early Universe occurred earlier than previously thought. In favor of this theory, it is said that astronomers have not found any evidence of the first generation of stars known as the stars of Population III – the period when the Universe was only 500 million years old.
The study of the very first galaxies remains a serious problem in modern astronomy. Humanity does not know when and how the first stars and galaxies formed in the Universe. However, a group of European researchers led by Rahana Bhatavdekar of the European Space Agency (ESA) believes that they have been able to seriously advance in this matter.
It is believed that the stars of Population III consisted of the original material that appeared as a result of the Big Bang. Thus, these stars were supposed to consist exclusively of hydrogen, helium and lithium, the only elements that existed even before the processes in the nuclei of these stars could create heavier elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and iron.
Scientists explored the early Universe from 500 million to 1 billion years after the Big Bang, studying the MACSJ0416 cluster and its parallel field using the Hubble Space Telescope (comparing them with data from the Spitzer Space Telescope and the ground-based VLT telescope).
The result was surprising, the researchers did not find any evidence that the stars of the first generation of Population III were present in this space time interval. The main result was obtained by analyzing data from the Hubble Space Telescope 3 wide-angle camera 3 and an advanced camera for shooting within the Hubble Border Fields program.
This program (which observed six distant clusters of galaxies from 2012 to 2017) made it possible to obtain the farthest observations of clusters of galaxies and the galaxies located behind them, which were increased by the effect of gravitational lensing.
A team of scientists has developed a new technique that removes light from bright foreground galaxies, leaving only these gravitational lenses. This allowed them to detect galaxies with low masses, lower than ever observed with the Hubble previously. The distance in this case corresponded to the period when the Universe was less than a billion years old.
The lack of evidence of exotic stellar populations and the identification of many small mass galaxies confirms the assumption that these galaxies are the most likely candidates for re-ionization of the universe.
The results obtained indicate that the earliest formation of stars and galaxies occurred much earlier than this can be studied even with the Hubble Space Telescope. Such a discovery leaves a wide area for research with the next generation telescope, James Webb.
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