Physicists have exciting news this week as the European Space Agency’s Planck space telescope have led scientists to the discovery that the first stars are almost 150 million years younger than originally thought.
For three years the telescope measured the cosmic microwave background; this is the very first light released in the universe as it cooled. The immense timeline of our universe begins with the Big Bang some 13.8 billion years ago. Before being illuminated by the first stars, there was a period known as the ‘Cosmic Dark Ages’ when opaque hydrogen gas clouded the universe. After millions of years, gravity forged the first stars and galaxies whose radiation ionised the hydrogen, turning it transparent. Although once believed to have taken place around 420 million years after the Big Bang, scientists have pushed this milestone forward in their understanding of our history to allow enough time for the formation of the first stars.
Physical natural scientists might like to view our cosmic timeline in further detail to shed light on the significance of this discovery.