US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — During the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang, the Universe was dark and empty.
After that, the hydrogen atoms that made up most of the cosmos began to come together and ionize, eventually forming the first stars that illuminate the sky.
To this day, the “dark age” of the universe remains poorly understood. But a team of scientists from the University of Washington is hunting for a 13 billion-year-old signal that can help explain how star formation formed the early Universe. And according to a study published in the Astrophysical Journal, they seem to be approaching.
The signal they are hunting for is an electromagnetic wave emitted by neutral hydrogen that populated the Universe before stars formed. At that time, the signal had a wavelength of 21 centimeters, but the expansion of the Universe increased it to about two meters.
“In this dark age, of course, there is no light signal that we could study to find out about it – there was no visible light!” Washington physicist Miguel Morales said in a press release.
Signal analysis may explain why parts of the universe seem completely empty, while others are filled with galaxies.
“And it’s hard to detect, because in the 13 billion years that have passed since this signal appeared, our Universe has become a very vibrant place,” Morales added, “filled with other actions of stars, galaxies and even our technology that drowns out a signal from a neutral hydrogen.”
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