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Astronomers have found the oldest oxygen in the Universe

18 May 2018

When Japanese astronomers at the Osaka Sangyo University detected a whiff of oxygen in a galaxy far away, they realized that the stars in there formed 250 million years after the Big Bang, which is a very short time in cosmic time. In the end, almost 550 million years after the Big Bang, enough stars will have framed that the Universe will be cleared of its light-blocking impartial particles, and we'll have the capacity to see everything with a sufficiently effective optical telescope. In other words, MACS1149-JD1 was already a fairly well established galaxy, even at this early time. MACS1149-JD1 is thus the most distant galaxy ever observed by ALMA of the VLT and the origin of the most distant oxygen ever observed by any instrument.

By establishing the age of MACS1149-JD1, the team has effectively demonstrated the existence of early galaxies to times earlier than those where we can now directly detect them.

This particular emission line came from ionised oxygen gas. Now, astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have detected the most distant - and hence, earliest - signature of oxygen, in a galaxy 13.28 billion light-years away.

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Oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen will only form in the universe after stars first fusion and then die, spewing these elements into interstellar space. That means we see MACS1149-JD1 as it was 13 billion years in the past, around 500m years after the Big Bang. Although we are seeing it now, the gas glow from this far-off galaxy was likely emitted 500 million years after the universe was first formed.

Scientists believe that the Universe's first stars formed in regions of very dense matter, although understanding of that process is still limited. Previously, astronomers due to limitations in technology only researched lights in the MACS1149-JD1, but with the help of high-precision telescopes, they were able to prove that the most remote from Earth, the galaxy, there are traces of oxygen.

ALMA has set the record for the most distant known source several times. With MACS1149-JD1, we have managed to probe history beyond the limits of when we can actually detect galaxies with current facilities.

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The team reconstructed the earlier history of MACS1149-JD1 using infrared data taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA Spitzer Space Telescope.

In any case, another examination, distributed on May sixteenth, 2018 in Nature, may have quite recently given us the affirmation we require that stars do, truth be told, exist at those early circumstances.

[1] The measured redshift of galaxy MACS1149-JD1 is z=9.11.

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Oxygen was not created in the Big Bang explosion that gave birth to the universe. This makes a photo of grandiose sunrise for this system that is predictable with everything else known: where the primary stars that were made keeping in mind the end goal to develop this world shaped only 250 million years after the Big Bang. In effect, by observing the blossom, astronomers have estimated when the bud first opened.

Astronomers have found the oldest oxygen in the Universe